BAM is swiftly approaching, October 2-3, and I was thinking of doing a series of player profiles and interviews before the event to sort of put faces to the names. While it might kind of late to start now, who better to interview and kick off the series than EXC355UM, one of the pillars of the Melbourne fighting game community, the man behind Shadowloo, Gamerhold, part of the competitive gaming clan TEC, and all-round nice guy. This interview was done on the 25th of September at Deakin Uni Session 4. Much thanks to EXC355UM, or Ali as I call him, and let’s get started!
1) How long have you been playing fighting games?
I’ve been playing fighting games since the days of ST but SF4 is my first competitive fighting game.
2) What is your favourite fighting game?
That’s hard to say. For me I would have to say I got into 3rd Strike a little too late, or else it might have turned out to be my favourite. But right now I’d probably have to go with CvS2.
What is your favourite game, period.
Haha how am I to answer that! (He thinks for a while.) Super Mario Bros 3! I don’t think I have ever finished any other game so many times before. I used to go through the game at least once a day, and the total number of completions must be over a few hundred!
I know you guys (TEC) play other games other than SF competitively, why don’t you tell me a little bit about that.
As you know, we used to have Team TEC which we started out playing a whole bunch of different console games. Mario Kart was pretty much the real start of TEC for me, and we branched out into other competitive games such as Halo, the Call of Duty series, a bit of Smash, and Street Fighter.
I used to be the best in Victoria for Mario Kart, and perhaps the best Metroid Prime player in the world at one point! I even had a clan named after me: EXC. Go check it out on YT, there’s a video of me having a match in Metroid Prime and beating my opponent in under 2 minutes 😛
3) Does playing other games help or hinder your ability to play Street Fighter? What’s your position on this topic?
I think it definitely helps. For example, I recently put down Super for two weeks to play Halo Reach. I was playing the sniper pretty extensively, and I found when I went back to Super that my reactions got better. I feel that playing other games, and definitely shooters in particular, can really help your reaction time.
And for other games like Mario Kart; you’re boosting and snaking continuously non-stop for 3 laps, and that takes a lot of concentration. You have to have constant finger skills manipulating multiple buttons, while staying on the right course or road in spite of your opponents’ distractions. The concentration, focus and button skills definitely transfer over to Street Fighter.
I believe that every game helps!
4) Tell me about yourself. What are your interests, hobbies etc.
I’ve always loved video games. I want to do something in the industry; e-sports shows, and reports on the Australian e-sports events. I especially feel that the console scene needs more coverage as there’s already a lot of media coverage on the PC side of competitive gaming.
I know you’re a fan of bodybuilding, now personally I don’t know too much about it. But do you have anything you want to brag to me and the world about, like a bench press mark or something?
Well, I’m not in it to compete, but if I ever did, it would probably be weightlifting, lifting up to 2-3 times your own body weight.
I don’t want to brag, but my deadlift record, single rep, is 260 kilos. I love the deadlift. If I had to choose one exercise to do for the rest of my life, it would the deadlift!
He’s gonna kill me for this vid…
5) Why Akuma?
I choose my characters on how they look; their visual style. Ever since I found out about the existence of Akuma, I’ve always thought that Akuma simply looks the most badass. And I’ve been using him for so long now that it simply feels right; when I tried to screw around with other characters like Ibuki, it didn’t feel the same.
6) I notice that you play a very unique Akuma. You eschew the normal, turtlish jump back fireball game, and try the rush that shit down.
It’s just my impatience! In any game I play it’s the same. Even in Halo, with the life lead where most people would simply sit back, I prefer to go right at them. I like to rushdown; but doing it properly is what I’ve been trying to learn all this time.
Your brother Sol tends to play aggressively as well. You’re the eldest, so it this simply the case of the big brother setting an example or the other way around?
I don’t know it’s just in the genes! Me, Sol, and even Just-S with his dictator, we all just love to attack people.
7) Explain your gamertag EXC355UM.
Back when I was looking for a name to use, I was looking for different translations of the word death. Excessum was basically death in Latin, and back then it was cool to have numbers in the names, so I had the 3 and the 5s in there. It’s too late to do anything about it now, since the name’s pretty much stuck!
8 ) Tell me about TEC, Shadowloo and Gamerhold. Where do you want to take these organisations?
As I’ve told you before, TEC started with Mario Kart, but in these 4 years I’ve made so many great friends through TEC. Like Pyro, who’s pretty much become like a brother to me now. People even see him and think that he actually is my brother!
Shadowloo was simply a case of me and my brothers feeling that the Melbourne scene did not have enough coverage. We wanted to do something for this scene that we love, and it’s been growing all this time, with a lot of help from all the sites that link to us such as SRK, Eventhubs and the rest.
Gamerhold…TEC actually used to be on another site, but there was a falling out with somebody there. One of my good friends Tristan, told us about a site he had and that we could use, and that was the start of Gamerhold becoming the new home of TEC. On Gamerhold, we cover different games and genres, and Shadowloo is more centred around fighting games.
9) I notice that you are extremely skilled/polite/diplomatic when it comes to dealing with trolls. Any kind of weird comments on Shadowloo, Youtube, you handle it with aplomb. Smiley faces, telling people who say “You suck” “That’s cool mate”. Tell me how you get the patience to deal with internet trolls like that.
The best way to deal with people like that is to simply do something they don’t expect. They troll you expecting you to get mad, so there’s no point in giving them what they want. A lot of times I get something from some kid on the internet or an Xbox Live rage message, and I simply reply with a “I love you.” And a lot of the time they reply “I love you too.” So it’s all good.
10) What do you hate about Super Street Fighter 4?
The tech system! I’m starting to figure it out more and more now, but it still doesn’t feel right. I also don’t like the lack of a guard bar or gauge. I feel that the game should reward you for rushdown, for being proactive. Not to, you know, do your best and rushdown for twenty seconds and get DPed for it.
11) I see you as a pillar of the Melbourne fighting game community. Tell me how you personally view your role within the Melbourne fighting game community.
I see Andy aka Hadouuken on Ozhadou as sort of being the ambassador of Melbourne, and you also have guys like Loki and Zan who have also been around for ages. I feel that I have networks in a lot of forums that I’ve been active in for a long time, and connections to other sites. So what I bring to the table is an ability to spread the word about our scene, without having people complain about me being a poster of self-interest with only 3 posts to my name or something like that.
12) What are some of the things you would like to see happen, or improved in the Melbourne fighting game community.
More sponsorship…I feel that the Australian scene is so far behind in some areas like sponsors, teams etc. There are a few really good players in our scene that I believe deserve some kind of sponsorship or representation, and could get it if they maybe worked on presenting themselves in a more professional way.
Another thing I would like to see is BAM becoming a major fighting game event on the calendar for the world, not just Australia. We’re getting there, this is our second year. Maybe in a few years time.
13) I’ve seen you raging about online play in person before, but yet at the end of the day, it’s always water under the bridge. Tell me your pet peeves about online play, and how you deal with saltiness!
I don’t like how some things can happen in online play, that wouldn’t in offline play. I still get annoyed, but I’m trying to change! I’m trying to set an good example for my brothers especially Sol who rages like crazy about offline play.
14) How do you see e-gaming or e-sports in Australia unfolding in the next few years? Are we held back by certain factors; the distance/population ratio, our poor national broadband network to make this work?
The internet is a big thing, with our infrastructure almost being like a Third World country. We can’t even get consistent good connections to neighbouring countries like New Zealand or even Singapore. Without good online connections, there’s no way to let the world know about, or promote, Australian gamers. So the only other way is to do that is to travel. But we need more finances to do that, and without promotion…
SF4 seems very popular right now, and with sites like Ozhadou and Shadowloo promoting our scene, hopefully more media outlets will start picking it up. We had Gamespot at EVO APAC this year, and Hyper magazine at BAM last year, so I’m pretty hopeful. We sent out as many press releases as we could about BAM this year, so hopefully more media takes notice!
15) Who is your favourite Street Fighter player? International and Australian. And why?
That’s a very tough one. Can I do it by region?
Sure, go ahead.
Japan- I like Momochi.
He’s your favourite Akuma?
Well him and this other player called K66..
I also like the Akuma player from Korea called Infiltration, he’s really good.
From the US, I like Sanford Kelly.
From Australia…I really like the way Sol plays. Him and Eddie (Ero_Oyagi from Ozhadou), rushdown kings!
16) Are there any players you think that will make a splash at BAM that no one knows about?
How about Andrew! (He points at Andrew/Divine Malice who is sitting right next to us.)It would be nice to see a Makoto player doing well at BAM. And there’s Vietcong, who doesn’t go to many tournaments, and there’s not much footage of him as well. He got 6th last year at BAM, and I see his Ryu surprising many interstate players.
17) Who was your Street Fighter Splinter/Mentor when coming up?
Just-S (aka BossLogic) always used to be better than me in every fighting game, and ever since ST he’s been the one getting me into all this. All this time my goal has just been to beat him, but now that Sol has gotten so good I gotta beat now too!
What is the best piece of Street Fighter advice anyone has ever given to you?
Sol once told me two words: Slow Down. Don’t think too fast, don’t go so fast in your head and in your hands, and your execution and gameplay will be better.
18) Tell me the story of your signature red gloves and the horse.
Basically we needed to mimic the arcade height of the setup, and we couldn’t find any furniture around that did the job. But one day my sister next door got in some new furniture, and we stole/borrowed a part of her furniture to test out. It was the perfect height, and we’ve been using it ever since.
With the gloves; I have this problem in tournaments, mainly in Street Fighter, that I get nervous and get sweaty palms. Especially in Street Fighter when your execution slips up once, there goes your whole game. My brother lent me his gloves, and at first I couldn’t feel the buttons. But it slowly became second nature over time.
19) What part of the screen do you watch when you’re playing a match?
I mainly focus on my character for my execution. I do my combos based off visual cues, which is why I don’t do well on laggy TVs. The way I do links like the crouching medium punch into standing heavy punch for Akuma, is that I see the fist come out, and then I hit the link.
20) Tell me in one sentence in your definition; what is footsies.
It’s just hitting someone with a move that beats their move.
Rock paper scissors.
21) Any advice for someone wanting to get good at Street Fighter? If there’s a shortcut, god knows I need it.
The first thing I would tell someone is to find a character that they’re comfortable with. A lot of people try to play multiple characters but it makes learning the matchups much more difficult.
The Japanese focus on one or two characters and that’s why their matchup knowledge is so superior to everyone else.
For myself I try to use Ryu, and I try to do air fireballs and that never goes well. So just stick to one character, and try to work your way through the matchups.
22) That’s great you said that. Because my next question is: how do you personally go about learning matchups?
If I have a problem with a specific situation I go into training mode. I set the dummy on replay and try to figure out how to punish it. If that fails, or I can’t set up the dummy right, I simply get my other dummy, my brother Sol, to do it. He plays every character anyway, so I’ll ask him to play Rose for an example, and try to learn from that.
And what is your worst matchup?
Charge characters. Honda, Balrog, Blanka, Dictator. Honda’s such an asshole, and if he didn’t hit like a truck he wouldn’t be too much trouble. His hundred hand slap chip damage is almost more than eating a fireball!
23) What is your personal goal in Street Fighter?
The first step is becoming the best Akuma in Broadmeadows 🙂
And what is your goal for yourself and the TEC members at BAM.
It’s not just about TEC, it’s more about Melbourne taking out as many interstate players as possible! (Zerokill sitting next to us agrees vociferously.)
Well it’s awesome that you said that because my next question is whether you have any strong words for interstate challengers?
(Big grin.) I hope that they’re ready and they’ve been practicing hard. Because Melbourne has been working hard with the Chris’s Club House events and sessions at Deakin University, so I hope they’re been training as well and not just eating those BT chicken wings!
It’s not just about beating them in BAM itself, but in the after-BAM drinking contests, the BT chicken wing eating contests, we just want to smash Sydney at everything. No wins for them!
24) I know you’re a great consumer of Street Fighter media. Do you have any favourite sources out there; perhaps a podcast, site, video series or stream?
I enjoy the new Cross Counter show, I think that Gootecks and Mike Ross are great hosts…
Hold it right there. Just how pretty is Mike Ross on a scale of 1 to 10?
Oh 10, easily.
For podcasts, I don’t really like to sit there and listen to stuff; I’m more of a visual guy. I prefer to go through the fighting game news on the big sites like SRK, Eventhubs, Iplaywinner, Ozhadou etc.
25) What international players would you like to invite to BAM? You know, if in an ideal world we had the finances….
We gotta get Justin Wong, a legend in the fighting game scene.
And Daigo, we had him once already, it’d be a no-brainer to have him over again. Last time he had a 500 game win streak on us, so we need him back so we can improve on that a little bit 😛
Tokido, he’s a very good player, and he speaks English!
I want Momochi, Choco Blanka, and Kindevu, all of them. After watching them so much on streams, it almost feels like we know them now. It would be cool to get to hang out with them.
I want to see guys from Europe as well, like Starnab, Alioune, and Luffy.
And lastly, I want Marn from the US. Last time he shit-talked Australia right before Evolution, and he finished lower in EVO than Humanbomb, just sayin’ 😛
26) Do you have a rival in the Melbourne scene? Someone you love to beat, and hate to lose to.
It used to be Nickerz, a Gief player from back in the BoxHill days. That’s changed somewhat in Super when I started taking games from him. Now I’d have to say my target is every other Akuma in Melbourne. I want to beat them so bad they change characters. I want to be the last Akuma standing!
27) Picture this scenario: Your opponent has a drop of life left. You’ve blocked his jump-in, and his ensuing blockstring. Do you mash DP? And do you hate yourself for it afterwards?
I NEVER mash DP. If anything I’d go for the demon. None of that wiggle shit (autocorrect DP mash) either!
28) My girlfriend thinks middle-eastern women are the most beautiful women in the world. (EXC355UM is of Syrian descent). What do you have to say about that?
There’s beautiful women in the Middle-East but there’s beautiful women everywhere. Now Swedish women… rock my boat.
Describe what the future Mrs EXC355UM would be like.
I have no idea! She’d have a heartbeat?
Would she be Swedish?
You never know?
What if she hates Street Fighter?
Hey that’s a hurdle you’ve gotta overcome. Getting her to love Street Fighter!
29) What do you think of tier lists?
I don’t believe in tier lists. If Akuma was C tier I’d still use him. Tier lists seem more like an excuse that people use when they lose. The skill of the player still matters the most.
30) Okay last question’s a little different. I tell you two things, and you have to choose and answer in three seconds. Ready? Go.
Street Fighter x Tekken or Tekken x Street Fighter?
Street Fighter x Tekken!
Xbox or PS3?
Honda or Guile?
Toxy or Humanbomb?
Chun Li’s legs or Cammy’s rear end?
No question, Cammy.
Robert Downing Jr….or Pyro?
Pyro has that down!
That’s it! Thanks so much man.
No problem, cheers Muttons.