Don’t be a Scrub Podcast Episode 22: Ryan Hart – Post SS2012 special!

Hi guys, this is Spider Muttons Productions © 2010 sole Shadowloo Showdown 2012 interview (we were really busy all weekend) and it features the U.K.’s own Ryan Hart.

Ryan is one of the most illustrious fighting game players of all time, and it was pretty cool to see a player of such history come to our shores and compete. Igor couldn’t make it this time, so I got to delve into Mr Hart’s mind, and talk about his extensive history as a pro gamer, his thoughts on Shadowloo Showdown 2012 and the upcoming EVO. Ryan also shares some very honest perspective on the pressures and negatives of being a top player, and talks about the scene in London and Europe in general. He even talks about his first travels to Japan, for the Ehrgeiz world championship!

For some reason this blows my mind.

Our apologies for taking so long to put this out, but there were a few delays in the process. As always, you can listen to the podcast below or read the transcript of the entire thing if you prefer. A big thanks to Rossco aka Zerokill for the sick banner, and also thanks to Ali and the Shadowloo guys for accommodating my interview request on Shadowloo Monday and for creating this event that made all this possible in the first place. Hope you guys like it.

You can find Ryan at https://www.facebook.com/RyanJosephHart

And check out the guys who sponsoring Ryan in his fighting game career: Western Wolves.

Check out Corey Hague’s excellent feature on Shadowloo Showdown for the ABC for more on Ryan and Shadowloo Showdown.

Fighting the good fight at Shadowloo Showdown 2012 from 774 Melbourne on Vimeo.

And check out these related links for all things SS:

Don’t be a Scrub Podcast Episode 22: Ryan Hart

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Direct Download 96 kp/s version

Don’t be a Scrub Podcast Episode 20: Ryan Hart

Muttonhead: So, Mr Ryan Hart.

1)      How are you finding Australia so far?

Ryan Hart: Oh it’s been amazing here. I just didn’t expect it to be so nice. I mean, every where’s nice, let me try to break it down a bit better than that. I think Australia surprised me for how chilled out and relaxed it is here. People seemed to be you know, genuinely happy with just being alive, you know? And I don’t always get that feeling about people. And I’ve never had such a friendly, you know, community around me. Like, whenever I’m on the street people just seem to say hi or just… Yeah I dunno, people are just so free here. Even now I’ve got that feeling in Melbourne and in Sydney as well.

M: Even the drunken bums are really cheerful and…

R: Even them!

M: (Laughs.)

R: They’re happy about their extra bottles of beer and it’s cool. Um, but I’ve been…but yeah it’s definitely changed how I think about places I’d like to live and stuff like that. So.

So I’m very happy here.

M:          2) So what do you think of Shadowloo Showdown? How’s your experience been so far?

Aw man. I don’t know why they bothered with that. It was awful.

M: (Laughs.)

R: Nah, Shadowloo Showdown was awesome man. I mean to be able to hold a multi-game tournament with that many top players, that…that just gets a round of applause. It’s not easy. It’s not even easy to organize a bedroom tournament with your local mates let alone have… internationals come from every part of the world, you know?

M: Yeah.

R: Just to be under one roof for a few days. That’s…that’s brilliant.

M: Have you heard much about the Australian scene before Shadowloo Showdown? R: The Australian scene…Well I’ve met the couple that I’ve seen at EVO. Like Heavy Weapons…

M: Like Toxy, Bomb.

R: …I’ve met Toxy. So you know, I knew those guys. And on Facebook we talk sometimes. But yeah, as in the whole scene, didn’t really know much about what went on here. I didn’t know there was a big divide in like the Tekken community and there’s a little bit of beef between Sydney and Melbourne.

M: Yeah Sydney and Melbourne.

R: Stuff like that. Marvel, they had that as well…

M: Yeah yeah.

R: That guy challenging Toxy and stuff.

M: Yeah, salty moneymatches.

R: Yeah, no it’s good. It’s good. I mean, it’s good to have a thriving community that kind of has a bit of pride, you know, that local pride about their scene and they want to be the best in their area or their country, that’s nice.

M: So I mean, since you haven’t heard much about us, what was your primary motivation to come down to Shadowloo Showdown?

R: Um, well I wanted to come to Shadowloo Showdown to…you know, show what Europe has to offer. To show that we have good players in Europe and the U.K. I’ve been travelling everywhere, so. It was nice to come to Australia and just be a part of the event because I couldn’t come to the previous one.

M: Right.

R: Yeah, just a few things…I think the Shadowloo Showdown staff and my sponsor kind of got in communication with it too late and then things couldn’t really get off the ground.

So this time we made sure it happened properly and we were allowed to come down. And um, I always enjoy playing with high level players, no matter where they’re from. And this time I got to play lots of different ones. In and out of tournament. And it’s always a good learning experience for me.

M: Yeah, I saw you playing tons of moneymatches!

R: Yeah, I know right! Heh.

It’s always a big favourite for me. Playing moneymatches.

M: Yeah.

R: That was good fun.

M: So was there anything in particular that you liked about the event or something that you wish we could’ve done better or?

R: Um…let me just think. Let me just think.

It’s sometimes hard to take it all in because when you’re one of the players that plays multiple games you spend most of your time running around, and you’re not really looking around for what could be done better, etc.

Um…I liked the first day, with the VIP day where you have casual setups and an exhibition area that was streamed. That was nice.

Um…I don’t know. It was okay, for me anyway. I mean, other people might have different opinions but for me…it was brilliant. You had space for people to play casuals, you had the tournament area. You had the people that were running their brackets and were clearly marked in their red tops. So everything was amazing.

I mean, the way you guys sorted out our accommodation, so that we had a place to stay. The fact that we all got to stay together was a really big thing for me. That was really nice. That we had like the UK guys like me and F word and the Marvel guys all on the same floor. And Andreas of course as well. And we also had like the Japanese next door and across the hall. You know. And then downstairs we had the Americans…so it was really, really good.

Pyro and F word, rocking the mics at SS2012.

M: So it was like FGTV. Australia style. (Laughs.)

R: Exactly.

It was a shame we didn’t get together for a more solid session, like even a tournament just with us. Like an outside the tournament tournament.

M: Side tournament kind of thing.

R: Yeah. You know, because we had the setup we had the…

M: Oh that’s right. Because you came on Friday right? We had the Box Hill tournament on Thursday that was kinda like the side tournament.

R:  I missed that. Yeah, yeah!

M: And Xiaohai won that.

R: Xiaohai won that. And I forgot to mention we had the Chinese players sharing a room as well with the other UK players. And we were sharing with Humanbomb and Poongko and M.Lizard. And Leslie from Singapore. So, so much international connectivity going on there, you know? It was brilliant.

Um, so yeah, I’m surprised that nothing kicked off. Some group beef right?

I thought yeah…nothing!

That would’ve been nice.

But you know, everyone wanted to do different things. These guys wanted to play Street Fighter…and also another thing now is that not everyone plays the same game.

M: That’s true yeah!

R: Some guys want to get together to play a bit of Marvel. Some guys want to do Street Fighter x Tekken. King of Fighters. AE. There’s so much going on in terms of high level fighting game play. So it’s quite hard to always fit each other’s wants and needs. So um, yeah. And then aside from gaming itself some people just wanted to…some people wanted to go to the casino.

M: Right. Did you go to the casino?

R: I didn’t get to go. But I knew a few of the guys…the Americans. I hear Poongko was racking it up…

M: He’s the King of gambling man.

R: Yeah, well, Seth player.

M: Yeah (laughs), Seth player…

R: Bona fide Seth player, that’s what you get eh?

I heard that last year…rumour has it. I wasn’t there. But I was with someone who was getting…I think it was Weirdo Neo, the Korean guy. Who was getting infinite updates on his phone because some guy was texting him from the casino who was with Poongko telling him how Poongko had never played blackjack in his life. And he was winning like…he won like three grand or something.

M: I don’t doubt that for a second…

R: The guy…the casino staff was explaining the rule as he went along. And he was winning mad money out of it. That guy’s nuts. So obviously his guessing is really good. Like how is he just winning card games like that if he’s never played it before. He’s too good.

M: Yeah heh. I wouldn’t put that past Poongko.

Poongko, God of dice rollin’.

So yeah, how disappointed were you to find out that right next to the VIP night we had Miss World interviews going on in the same hotel!

R: Ah man, I’m proper upset about that man.

The honeys that I missed out on seeing, it’s just not fair. Yeah I heard that they had Miss World in the same building.

M: Yeah, yeah, right next to us.

R: Happening all at the same time. So. I didn’t even know about it. I would at least have my eyes…slightly more peeled…

M: (Laughs.)

R: For things other than combos if I had been aware. But yeah. I guess that’s what happens. So, Miss World…and Shadowloo Showdown.

Gotta do it next year.

M: Perfect combination. We gotta do a joint event next year.

R: (Laughs.) I like that.

M: So yeah.

2)      Since you got to play a bunch of casuals and moneymatches with all the internationals. Was there anybody that you were surprised or impressed by in particular?

R: I was really impressed with Naruo. Because of his character, Evil Ryu. I’ve never seen that character played to such a high level. It’s always a nice…fresh experience when you see that because it’s like hey, this game is even better than I thought it was, you know?

It’s not just the usual suspects that I can expect to play in tournaments. And actually these guys are also viable and they can be used just as well, you know? So yeah, I knew that Gen was good but obviously to see Amiyu to do so well was brilliant as well. And just generally…those two for the characters. I liked Michael Tan…

M: Yeah his Ken was amazing.

R: He was very, very clean, very sharp, very impressive to watch. I did like his style. He’s such a great guy as well.

M: I was impressed by the Chinese guys…

R: Of course! Yeah! What underdogs! Just coming up and blowing everybody up!

The Chinese invasion!

M: Yeah!

R: Yeah it’s true. Because no one expected any…I mean other than themselves…

M: (Laughs.)

R: No one expected them to just come out and batter people like they did, you know? Xiaohai winning the whole tournament, the Box Hill tournament…

M: Yeah! He was dominant.

R: And doing really well in singles at Shadowloo as well.  Humanbomb, that Sakura. Probably the best Sakura I’ve ever seen, bar Uryo. So yeah, he definitely…round of applause to that guy.

And um, Dakou? Oh my days!

M: Dakou what do you think of his Ryu?

R: Sick. Taking out Fuudo twice! You know.

M: Yeah!

R: As a Ryu player myself I know that’s a hard task.

M: Yeah! As I was sitting there, I was like, oh here comes Fei Long. Here comes that 7-3. Wait…is he winning? Twice?

R: Yeah. No not totally true. I don’t think that match is 7-3. But you know how like…I don’t know. It’s just one of those hard matchups for Ryu.

M: Yeah!

R: It is an uphill battle and you’re kind of struggling almost all the time. But no. I do think they just put on just such a strong show. And it was great to see because no one expected it. So yeah, the Chinese definitely get my vote.

M: Yeah I think they’re gonna do really well at EVO this year.

R: Are they all going?

M: I would hope so.

R: Yeah. Hang on a second. KOF’s at EVO right?

M: Yeah I think so.

R: Yeah so Xiaohai. Dakou. Wow. Okay, okay. It’s gonna be a fun year for them.

M: Yes. So are you happy with Europe’s performance at SS?

R: No. No no no. I’m very happy with Zak’s performance. Although I would’ve liked him to slip into top 3.

But obviously those top three are…

M: For Marvel, you mean.

R: Yeah, for Marvel. And those top three are like…super strong. So you know, it’s no shame to lose to any of those three. But you know, I’ve got a lot of respect for Zak. Because he is a very new Marvel player. And to be able to compete on such a high level with such a small amount of experience is definitely a great thing. So I’m really happy that he did really well. And it was a brilliant performance from Zak.

Myself, I’m quite disappointed with myself because losing to Justin…I don’t feel that I played as well as I could have. I think I gave him too much respect and wouldn’t play my regular tiger shot game because I was always aware that he might jump in. But of course when the jump in never came I should have perhaps maybe started to try and put some pressure on from distance. But I never did. I was always thinking…okay maybe now. Okay he hasn’t jumped…so maybe now. At even at times when I had an opportunity for an anti-air that I would end up missing it. So I think in that match nerves got the better of me. I mean, we played the moneymatch afterwards Sagat versus…

M: Rufus.

R: Rufus. First to five. And I did manage to win a very close 5-4. So you know, whether I won or lost my point is that it was a lot closer than it was in tournament. So I just think I need to just drop those nerves and perhaps give players just based on status too much respect when I played them.

M: Is this the first time you played Justin in tournament for a while?

R: It’s the first time I’ve played him in SF4 in tournament, yeah.

M: Really? Wow.

R: First time. Ever.

Oh no actually I’ve played him on SF4 in France once. Very long time ago. That was definitely an experience for me…

M: Right, right. Ryu…Rufus.

R: Yeah that’s right. You got a good memory. There was a double KO round I think.

M: Yeah, yeah.

R: The thing with that match is I was just starting out with Ryu. Just off Sagat and onto Ryu. So neither character was anywhere near solid. And yeah that was a hard tournament for me just based on I didn’t have anyone to lean on.

You know, I wasn’t confident with the character yet. So no, I was very happy that I did the money match afterwards with Justin. Because that showed me that it was just my nerves. And it wasn’t that I had the quality as a player to compete with him. And um…no it was good to win that.

And then also Naruo…’cause in losers’ bracket I then lost to Naruo.

M: Yep, yep.

R: Evil Ryu. And I had never played an Evil Ryu before.

M: On the level of [Naruo] right?

R: But I hate that. I hate the…I don’t like that I have to say that I haven’t played it. Because it just sounds like I’m giving an excuse. I’m not giving an excuse; he outplayed me in the match. Definitely did. Even in the guesses I did understand. He guessed right and I got punished for it. So I don’t have any problems with the fact that I lost to him. But when I talk to people they come back and say, well you’ve never played an Evil Ryu, so it’s not your fault. But at the same time the game’s been out long enough for us to know all the characters. Maybe not for matchups, because you won’t know until you play against it. But at least to have an idea of what the character’s about and you know, and what’s on the line [indecipherable]. And stuff like that.

So I guess it’s just me not doing my homework. I knew he was coming. So yeah. But um, in the same way as the Justin scenario, I did moneymatch him afterwards as well.

M: Ah really. Cool.

R: And I beat him 5-4 as well!

M: (Laughs.)

R: So it just comes down to me not having the knowledge when I needed it. Against Justin, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a knowledge thing. I think it was more of just getting over the nerves. Because I do get stage fright quite badly these days.

M: Why these days?

R: I don’t know.

I’ve been doing it for years and years and not having stage fright. And in the past year or two I’ve been suffering really badly although I’ve been keeping it really low-key.

But yeah I’m suffering really badly from stage fright. I do perfect until it goes to the stream. Or until it goes on stage. If you look at my recent tournaments, like every single one? I do really well, until I have to go on stream. Until I have to go on that big stage in front of everyone. Soon as it goes to that, things just go downhill from there.

Even if the opponent is someone that I could’ve beaten on a smaller screen on the regular setups. I’m not saying I always win, no. I can lose on the smaller setup. But I’m just saying, I’ve definitely seen the quality of my play deteriorate once it’s on a big stage. In most previous big tournaments.

And I feel I need to get over something. Because I think it’s holding me back right now.

M: Is it pressure from your sponsors or…

R: Oh no no no! It’s not from sponsors; I think its pressure from myself because of who I am and how long I’ve been playing for. I feel a certain pressure to perform to everyone’s expectations. And when I don’t do that, it affects me. And I’m no longer just concentrating on getting the win, it’s more of a…

M: Quality of play, right?

R: I guess so. Yeah.

And yeah. It’s definitely a bit of a struggle for me right now.

M: And I guess since you’ve never had to deal with it before, you’ve never had stage fright, it’s like a new experience.

R: Yeah, exactly.

And also, I’ve never felt so much pressure to appeal to everyone. Before when I was a kid, I used to just play for myself. I used to play for myself, I didn’t care of what people thought. And now it’s like…

Oh you know, Ryan’s using Yun.

Oh you know, Ryan’s doing this.

And I…care about it. And I shouldn’t. I should ignore it. But it bothers me. It bothers me when people think I’m not as good as a certain player just because of a certain match or a certain result. You know and…I subconsciously notice that I’m looking to…I’m looking at my own matches and I’m looking at what happens in them to see if I’ve done a certain thing correctly and stuff like that. And I shouldn’t care really. You know, I should just play the game for myself.

But I um… these days you know community’s important as well. I care about my image; I care about what people think of me. And…like when I go on like Eventhubs, it’s really painful sometimes.

M: Yeah there are a lot of people…

R: A lot of people who have never met me, and they don’t know me personally. Who never spent any time with me, have a complete picture of what I’m like. They have a complete image of the person they think I am.

M: Yeah.

R: And some of the things they say are things that I wouldn’t say unless I knew a person. Unless I had a personal connection, like I spent time with them, you know? And these people posting might just be really young or something. But I really don’t understand why they think these things that they think.

And um…it’s quite hard because sometimes I write things with everyone in mind, and I try to think of how I can maybe support them as up and coming gamers with my experience because I’ve been around a lot longer than most of these…or probably everyone on Eventhubs. And I try to you know…think in a way that allows me experience to show through what I’m talking about. And I don’t get any love back from that. It’s always like…well you know. He’s just moaning about this again. Or he’s just complaining. Or he’s just salty. There’s never any credit there. And so because there’s such an imbalance in biased bad opinions of me, it kind of makes me feel maybe I shouldn’t bother, you know. But in the end I don’t want to do that because I’m just joining…I’m just becoming the next guy to give up. And I don’t want to do that. I want to be there for the people, you know. As a player and a kind of advisor or maybe a kind of mentor you know. I don’t want to you know, just fall away, and then one day like I don’t play…and like I mentioned earlier…there’s going to come a time when these players that are top pro players now won’t be around anymore. People always take it for granted that we’re always going to be here. There’s always going to be Justin Wong. There’s always going to be Marlin Pie. There’s always going to be Tokido. One day, we’ll all move on and do different things. But while we’re around, I know that what I want to do is to be able to share my knowledge with the community and give to the players things that they can carry on to transcend the generations of video gaming.

In getting that off the ground, to have such difficulty from people who know next to nothing or people who’ve had a lot less experience than I have, is quite painful, you know.

And yeah, I don’t know. It’s almost like…unless you like…win a really big tournament you don’t know what you’re talking about. Or unless you beat so and so player you don’t really know what you’re talking about. And I don’t think it’s always about comparisons like that. Experience goes a long way.

And the stuff that I’ve been through…definitely you know, can’t necessarily be understood by everyone. So you just have to give me a chance, you have to give me some time. And I think if a lot of players decided to give me some time and actually let me you know, get my words across in a way that…because sometimes it’s just communication as well.

Especially when it’s through text it’s not always easy to…

M: That’s true, yeah.

R:  To understand how they mean something, what they’re trying to get at.

But if people just give me a chance they’d realize I’m a not a bad guy, by a long shot. And I do have some really knowledgeable and sensible things to say. So um, yeah. Maybe time will tell.

M: That’s really interesting that you said that. I can’t imagine how Justin deals with his, his kind of like his PR…

R: Well I think Justin…maybe has a lot more face time with the Americans because he’s in America.

M: That’s true, yeah.

R: So there’s more opportunity there for players to see him. To actually hear his interviews, to be around him. There’s gonna be other players who have met him and can vouch for who he is and stuff like that.

Whereas if people talk about me in America, there aren’t as many players who’ve actually met me and spent time with me so it’s easier for there to be a general understanding that he’s this kind of guy.

Just based on what some other guy said, who probably doesn’t know me either.

And um, I’m not perfect by not a long shot but I think it’s definitely rare for someone who’s met me and knows me thoroughly and spent a lot of time with me to then turn around and say I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to fighting games or everything I say is negative or I moan a lot. No. I don’t think you’d find anyone.

M: Yeah.

R: So um, it definitely shows that people who do think these things  are people that haven’t spent enough time following my work and looking at who I am as a person and what I’m doing and why I’m doing what I’m doing. So yeah, it just provides a little bit of a crack in my progress for me. It makes it harder for me to push on. And it’s a lot of pressure for me now as a player because the level is that high. Everyone is really good. You go to a high level tournament, I mean you look at Shadowloo Showdown; you had players like Poongko and Fuudo not making top 8.

M: Yeah. Not even making top 16.

R: Yeah exactly. So way far from the crown, you know. Really far out. So you know, it’s just one of those things. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from the UK. A lot of people say that it’s certainly because I’m British. If I was from Japan, if my name…if everything was the same, if I was a Sagat player Ryan Hart from Japan… The reception I’d get would be a lot more…would be lot more…

M: Yeah, that’s really interesting.

Because I’m from the United Kingdom, people don’t want to accept me for who I am, or don’t want to acknowledge my accolades and things like that. And that’s quite painful. To be judged based on location.

M: Yeah because you put so much time and so much effort into these things.

R: Well that’s the thing. I mean, a lot of the things I’ve done or a lot of the work I’ve done…you know is from the late nineties. So we’re talking over a decade of success in fighting games. And this is also travelling all over the world as well. I’ve won tournaments in America, I’ve won tournaments in Japan, I’ve won tournaments in countries that people haven’t even placed in or done well in, you know, like they’ve lost in the first round of every tournament. So obviously I was a bit younger then. I had more time so my success rate was probably a lot higher based on that. But now you know, it’s a bit more difficult to commit the same amount of time.

I still have the talent and ability I did have, but obviously juggling priorities around makes things a bit more difficult.

M: Are you looking to take more of a spokesman’s role in the future? Like as a…

R: I don’t know, I don’t know yet. I do think that I’ll probably end up doing something like that because it’s quite a heavy commitment to always be playing and I know that I don’t want play forever and I know that I want to get into other things, because there’s so many things I enjoy doing.

So maybe to not disconnect from the community too completely, I might like to take some kind of you know, maybe a sort of community role or I’m around for the people more.

M: I think I…after speaking with you [earlier], you speak Spanish, uh German, Japanese?

R: well I speak Japanese fluently. I know some words in Spanish, and I speak a bit of German because I lived there. But um, yeah, those others aren’t fluent by a long shot. But having travelled around you learn to pick up things here and there. So I just know like…

M: Yeah I mean you’d be really good as a community guy because you can communicate…

R: Oh I see, yeah. I guess so. Yeah I can understand someone basically…with languages I think you just need to have an open mind as well. It’s part of understanding the culture about a country as well.

3)      So yeah, I’ve been following you for a while because you’re a shoto player. And I’m a shoto player as well. So let’s talk about shoto players, who do you admire, and who do you like to watch?

R: Show-toes. Showing your toes.

M: (Laughs.)

R: I’ve got a friend in the UK, shoutouts to the Prince [indecipherable]. But he says why they’re called Shotos because they show their toes. They never wear shoes right?

M: Yeah yeah heh.

R: They show their toes. Sorry sorry, I had to get that one out.

M: No it’s fine. (Laughs.)

So any favourite players that you like to watch? Ryu players?

R: Ryu players that are out there now?

There aren’t that many…Dakou…

M: Throughout history…throughout history.

R: Oh okay, from history. (Exhales.)

I really used to like Inoue. The Third Strike player Inoue. He had an amazing Ken. Not just because he was good…

M: Ah yeah, yeah. You used to play Ken right? Before you switched to Ryu/Sagat.

R: Yeah. My Ken’s too sick; we can’t talk about my Ken.

M: (Laughs.)

R: Heheh. Yeah so, Inoue’s Ken, he had a really slick Ken. Everything was on point.  It was sharp, precise, really aggressive; I loved the way he played Ken.

M: Is that why you liked Michael Tan so much now?

R: Not really, it’s different. Michael Tan is a lot more passive. Because you have to be, to be honest in SFIV. And um, it’s a different game, different rules.

Um no, Michael Tan isn’t in the league I used to like Inoue’s Ken in. It’s less, slightly less. But for the quality of gamers we have now, Michael Tan is an amazing Ken player. And um, you know because it’s such a rare character to see at high level play, in tournaments anyway. Um, it’s a lot more appreciated.

M: Who would’ve thought Ken would be [so rare]? Heheh.

R: I know right. Who would’ve thought Ken would be so good. MOV’s got a good Ken as well.

M: Yeah he’s really good as well.

R: Not to take anything away from him, but I can see that Michael Tan’s put in a lot more time in the game and he knows the matchups, and that shows.

M: So what about Ryu players, or Sagat players?

R: So Ryu players…

M: Because you play Super Turbo as well right? So…

R: Yeah. Um…

Daigo’s Ryu? Just for how consistent his game style is. I know he gets a lot of complaints, your Ryu’s boring. You don’t do anything. People like to complain about Daigo’s Ryu, I’ve heard a lot of stuff. But he’s very consistent and he’s very solid. And he has a strong mind because he’s able to stick to a ­­­game plan.

He’ll stick to that game plan as long as he needs to. You get a lot of players that start out with a game plan…okay I’m going to start out, and I’m going to commit to doing infinite fireballs. I’m going to commit to that. And this is going to be my strategy because I know he doesn’t jump in that often, for example. Now the guy will jump in at the beginning of the round, and that person will eat a combo. They’ll completely abandon the strategy that they just decided they were going to employ.

And the reason that is bad is it kind of changes your learning curve because once you decide to employ a strategy you employing it not just because you want to get the win, but you’re employing because you want to see how many different ways it can succeed or fail. Just having a jump in is not enough of a deterrent to completely abandon the strategy.

Because there’s different ranges you can use the strategy from, there’s different positions you can do it from. There’s different buttons you can use…

M: Frequency…

R: Yeah, exactly. So there are different ways to employ strategy but people are too eager to find only one solution that works for everything. And apply that. But sometimes that’s not available. Sometimes it is about mixing things up and looking at how you can apply something and where you should apply it and where you shouldn’t. And stuff like that. And only once you’ve got a lot of experience using one strategy do you then know the ins and outs of when and where you can use it. So for example then, after using it for a long time, you might know that okay, I’m going to apply this strategy but not from the beginning of the round. Because he can get the jump in, he’s in that range. So then you’ll like wait five seconds and then you’ll start your tactic. You don’t always have to do something at the beginning of the round. Sometimes people feel: I need the life lead. I gotta do something straightaway, no. Sometimes the best thing is to do nothing.

Let them fall into your trap, you know?

And um also, it’s not good to give clues to what you do. And it’s very commonly known that a top player will memorise what you do at the beginning of the round. Do you dash in? Do you jump back? Do you backdash? Do you block. Do you throw a fireball.

M: Do you stand short?

R: What does a top player do at the beginning of the round? This is key.

When I played Daigo, I knew that he would fireball after waiting a split second to see what I did. So I jumped in…

M: Like a split second later.

R: Yeah. That split second is very important. Because that split second of analysis is to look at what they’re doing. Once you’re comfortable with what they’re doing or not doing something that you either want or don’t want them to do, you make your move.

His move was fireball. His first attempt to take some chip damage to keep…to obtain the life lead. Which I jumped and got the combo. So it was a risk I took. But because at the beginning of the round they don’t have meter or Ultra or anything, it’s not that much of a risk. It’s not necessarily a round deciding risk. So um, sometimes I think people should look at balancing up risk taking with what’s on the screen, how much time is left. And what kind of elements they can use for a comeback factor.

M: Right, right. That’s really interesting that you say that you admire his mind being strong. Because you basically summarise what I do wrong all the time. I decide on a strategy, I get jumped in. And I abandon the strategy.

R: Yeah.

M: And that is why I fail, basically.

R: Yeah. You know, it’s like I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna use low forward. I’m going to walk forward with crouching medium sweep and push him to the corner. And they’ll eat one level 2 focus and decide that’s not a good strategy anymore. But it might be, it just caught out once. Or he read you right that time. It’s not wrong to be read right. It’s never wrong to be, it’s not necessarily wrong to be read right. If he reads you, he’s giving you a clue to how he thinks.

M: Yeah you didn’t do something wrong, he did something right. Pretty much.

R: Yeah, exactly. But what I’m getting at here is if your opponent reads what you’re doing, he’s also giving a clue to how he thinks.

M: Right.

R: Inside of giving him something, you take something too. So after that, you see oh okay, he does focus here. But obviously nowadays on games, you wish you look at things like what he might think you’re going to do next. Don’t just go into…okay. I’m going to do a move that’s two hits because he’s done a focus. Because you should think that he might be aware of that. And sometimes what top players have difficulty…have a difficult time doing is being able to find out on what level they should take their opponent at. Because is he someone that reads a few steps forward?

Or is he someone that’s just going to continue doing the same thing until it’s tackled? In the sense in the guy might not do a two hit…like if you think, okay. This guy’s only using focus. So I’m going to do something that’s two hits to break it. Whether you do that to break it or not, you have to consider what he’s going to do after you’ve shown him he can’t do that anymore.

M: Right. Will he stop or will he readjust…

R: And it’s all about staying on top of the mindgame. So the next time he might try to keep his distance. He might try to do a quick move because your two hit move might…if it’s Ryu. And you’re going for Solar Plexus it’s quite slow. So he might try to hit you out and get a counterhit. Or if you’re going to do a low forward into a dragon punch, he might backdash after the focus and bait you into…

So there’s all different things you can look to expect from a player that knows what you might go for. But it’s about what you change and how you manipulate his game into your favour.

So never feel discouraged when they guess right. Just know, okay, this is what he does, this is what he knows, just go with it.

M: Right.

4)      So since we’ve started talking about game plans, how would you describe your playstyle? Your strengths, your defining traits.

R: Um, I think my playstyle is definitely more aggressive. Offense and defense, on any game, heh.

On any game, whether it be Tekken, King of Fighters, Street Fighter. I’ve always, always passionately enjoyed being aggressive. And the reason for that is because when I first got into you know, the depth of fighting games, what I enjoyed the most was I mean, I loved the music, I liked the graphics, I even enjoy some of the characters, I think they’re funny, they have funny phrases or their moves look cool, whatever. But what I enjoy the most is…the mindgames. The mindgames that go into what make these battles fun for me. And you know, I couldn’t wait kind of to lock horns so to speak, get near and start to mixup the minds…

M: Mmm. That’s because you enjoy the…

R: Yeah, I love the close combat. Because that was where we were thinking. That was when we were doing all the thinking. That was where we were exercising our minds, that was the stimulation. When we were both at the back of the screens, it wasn’t that fun for me.

M: Right. So why do you play projectile characters?

R: Well now, Street Fighter IV is one of those games where you can’t just run in.

M: Right.

R: I mean, games have changed now. It’s not like King of Fighters where you have a roll, you have run, you have a teleport. You know. Now it’s about being safe. Now it’s about picking the right moment to do certain things. I mean, although Ryu’s a projectile character he’s very much a character that gets stuck in. And Sagat also, Sagat being a zoner…

M: He can’t get away with it too much…

R: Yeah I was in two minds.

I was in two minds about going back to maining Sagat before. Because he’s quite dry. I do find him quite dry sometimes, even to play with. But I didn’t go with Ryu because Ryu hadn’t changed enough for me to consider him. I’ve been using him all throughout Super. And for a tiny, tiny bit in AE. And then 2012 comes out, and they’ve given him next to nothing new, you know?  And it’s like, well, I don’t want to do all that again. It was kind of getting boring as it was. Now a new game’s come out and he’s still the same. I want to use someone else.

Rather than go right back to the drawing board I thought I’d pick up someone who I know well. And at that time it was already like a point where people were starting to say, hang on, maybe your Sagat’s kind of better than your Ryu, you know? So I thought if I picked him up for 2012, maybe I could work out some stuff, and I made some of my own original setups and kind of looked at what I could do different from other Sagats and made him my main.

But from base, my fighting game personality. It’s very much a…

M: Aggressive.

R: Aggressive nature. And it’s because I like to getting close to use mindgames and mix-ups that’s the fun for me.

M: That’s cool.

5)      So yeah, let’s talk about sponsorship. I might be wrong here, but you’re the first fighting game player to get sponsored in history right?

R: Yep.

M: So can you talk a bit about your history of sponsorship and?

R: Um… my first ever sponsorship for fighting games dates back to 1998.

M: 1998. Wow.

R: 1997.

M: 1997!

R: And I was sponsored by Namco, directly.

So it was kind of like a Daigo Mad Catz thing now.

M: Yeah, yeah.

R: Where they want their products to get out there and they all kind of…

M: And this is for Tekken right?

R: Yeah. At the time we used to play at Namco, an arcade, a really big arcade in central London. Um, in Piccadilly Circus on [indecipherable] Street called Namco Wonder Park. And Namco Wonder Park was the place to be if you played fighting games. Because they had everything the day that it was out or whatever. They would always get everything and really really soon.

And that time they had Virtua Fighter 3, it was like the latest one. Tekken 3 was the latest Tekken. King of Fighters ’97 or ’98. And I was the champion of all three.

So Namco thought it would a good idea if they sponsored me to be their kind of…  “breadwinner”.

M: (Laughs.)

R: So what they’d do is they would give me free credits. Sit me down on the machine. And because I was the best at the time, I would beat everyone. And that would encourage people to play more because they wanted to beat me. And not only that, because I beat everyone so quickly, they would make money faster.

M: Right. Heh. That’s cool.

R: So they sat me at the machine. I’d never have to pay anything. They paid for my travel; they paid for my monthly travel to get like a travel card for all zones that could get me from my house to the arcade and back. And they’d pay for my dinner. The community manager at the time, he was called something different. He wasn’t called community manager back then because we didn’t have forums or anything. But yeah, that guy would take me out to dinner, and make sure I was fed…

M: Sounds really romantic.

R: I know, right! Heheh.

I’m sure his wife thought he was having an affair.

So every day he would have to show up at a certain time and take me to dinner. Wherever I wanted to eat.

M: Wow. Wherever you wanted to eat?

R: More or less. If I said, let’s eat here, that’d be where we ate, you know?

M: Awesome.

R: It was pretty cool. I didn’t really understand it at the time, it was like…why me?

There were so many good players. So.

M: Sorry, how old were you at the time?

R: I was…eighteen.

M: Eighteen…wow. That’s like…

R: Seventeen or eighteen. So I was pretty young. And I was way too young to be getting all these things I think! So after Namco…Namco got me involved with Logitech. And Logitech became my next sponsor. They sponsored mice [unclear] to get like equipment and things like that. So my first sponsorship with Namco is kind of what you get nowadays but on a lower scale. Instead of getting world travel it was like local travel. Instead of getting like your meals paid or whatever you got like a burger or you know whatever…

M: Heheh. But hey, pretty good for an eighteen year old…

R: No totally, totally. I loved it; I mean I used to get other things as well. Just every now and again. Just wasn’t kind of part of the package but it just used to happen. And it was pretty rough in the fact that I had to win. Now…I think you’re not dropped if you lose a tournament. But then you had to win everything.

M: Wow. That’s nuts.

R: Yeah. I was the champion of all three. And you had to win all three. You couldn’t… But that probably was their selling point, you know their marketing. Oh this is the guy that wins all three.

So after that…Logitech.

And then in 1999, Namco invited me to this world tournament. And I won it. And I didn’t even know I was going to win it. They were just like, yeah. You can play. And then I won it, and it was like, oh. I’m the champion. It was the weirdest thing. Yeah, I don’t know, everything happened so quickly back then. At least it feels like it did now.

A lot of things weren’t planned. It was just…I would get a call. And the call would be like; can you be ready in an hour? And someone would come pick me up and I’d just be there in two hours. And all of a sudden my life from being at home in front of the TV was now I’m in front of this Playstation and I’m in the grand final, you know?

It’s just so… surreal.

M: Yeah.

R: So that was how it was then, for sponsorship. It was really low-key, and it was just for certain special favourites. And you had to really work for everything you could give to the sponsor.

M: So then you were with Logitech and then… still with Namco. How long did that last?

R: Well yeah, basically Logitech decided to do their own thing. So they had me just separately to Namco. The guy who was kind of my coach at the time, I used to call him my coach. He kind of moved onto other things so that was when my sponsorship with Logitech disappeared. Because he then…he either quit the company or he started his own thing. Yeah I think he quit the company and started his own thing. And that thing concerned Logitech so I then became sponsored by Logitech.

M: Ah. I see, I see.

R: And they picked me up. And um…that lasted for a year I think. Maybe a bit more. Because it wasn’t contract work. It was just until we need you sort of thing you know?

M: Heh. They summon you with the Batsign.

R: Yeah. It was like, you’re our man, until you find someone better kind of thing.

M: Right.

R: Sort of Starship Troopers-esque. But.

M: (Laughs.) Oh man…

R: Heheh. Of course you don’t get killed in the gaming field but yeah. And yeah you know, and that was my first sponsorship. I mean it was really weird you know, but that was how it was.

And you know, back in those days it wasn’t like now when you had multiple champions like I was…I was the only guy kind of winning more than one game. There was no one who won…who was a champion on more than one game. Now it’s pretty common. You got Justin Wong, you got Tokido. You’ve got a few players that are really good at multiple games. But back then…at least until…well into like the noughties you didn’t have anyone who could really hold their own on more than one game like…

There were people that dabbled, but no one was like controlling things on any two games. And that was another thing that made me quite different to everyone else. Of course I didn’t win every tournament; there’d be times I lost. Like I lost in the grand finals in the King of Fighters ‘98 tournament to this Chinese guy. Who’d come over for a holiday. So I was still the people’s champion but I wasn’t the real champion.

This Chinese guy, he was called Terence. He was like the best King of Fighters player I’ve ever seen. He may even still be to this day. He was that good.

And he came over to study English for a while. And that was it, boy. No more championship! That guy was in town! That guy was too sick!

M: (Laughs.)

R: But yeah it was good, because I learned. I got to learn. And at the time I had some beef with the French champion.

M: Right. Was that the first time that you experienced somebody who was at another level?

R: Wow. That guy…isn’t the first time, no. Because the first time I ever experienced a level that was unreal…has got to be when I went to Japan.

M: And that was…

R: The first time I went to Japan. And that was in 1998. First time I didn’t speak any Japanese. And I went to Japan because there was…I was the champion of another game called Ehrgeiz and it’s like this um…cross Namco and Squaresoft when it was still called Squaresoft back in the day. They’d done this fighting game which was a kind of Power Stone type top down fighting game where you kind of hide behind crates and shoot and stuff like that.

And they had this cast of characters and they had a championship for this game. And I wandered into this arcade and saw this massive yellow sign saying: “Win free trip to Japan.” And of course I was really interested so I read more and it said: we’re going to have a tournament this weekend. And the winner will get to go to Japan to represent the UK in the world final.

So I look at this game and I look at this machine. And there was no one…it was like in the middle of the day, there was no one there. I’m like, look at this game. I don’t know anything about this. And I’m looking at it, and I’m like, well if it’s a bit like Street Fighter, maybe I can…maybe I can find a character that’s like Ryu or someone I know and be able to play it, you know? But you know it just looked so different. How am I ever gonna to get any good at this.

M: On a related note, didn’t you get top 8 at Skullgirls and it was the first time you’ve ever played it?

R: Yeah it was the first time I ever played it.

M: I heard this story that someone told me…Ryan Hart asked me which character had an SPD. And he picked that character and he got top 8!

R: Hahaha! Yeah I’ll come back to the Ehrgeiz story.

M: Oh yeah.

R: I’ll come back to the Ehrgeiz story. So basically, Skullgirls. I don’t know, Ali on Facebook, Ali came on, and he was like…or was it Sol? One of the brothers came on and said, yeah. What games do you want to enter? And it was like I gave a list of games, and they said, do you want to enter Skullgirls?

I was like, alright.

M: Yeah heh.

R: And a day or two after I thought, you know what, I should really focus on the games I can win. I don’t want to…waste any time.

And then I got some tweets. Hey Ryan Hart, we’re so looking forward to watching you play Skullgirls! Can’t wait, blah blah…

M: (Laughs.)

R: So I’m like…aw man. Oh no…

M: (Laughs.)

R: Okay…I’d better not like back out now so…

I know the game’s relatively new, so I thought, well. No one’s going to be that good. Let me just see what happens. So I went down there and then you know…

I’ll be honest, I was dreading playing Skullgirls.

M: (Laughs.)

R: I was trying to avoid even going around the area. And lo and behold, after a while it was like, Ryan Hart to the Skullgirls area! Over there.

Oh okay. So I go over, and I’m like, aw man. What am I going to do?

And I really like grab characters. If you look at my King of Fighters history I use a lot of characters with special grabs. And I’m pretty good at using them. And I was like…you know, which character has a special grab? Because I know how to get close. So if I can use a special grab maybe I can do some damage.

So I went over there and I was just like, does anyone have a special throw? And they were all so nice! They were all so nice and accommodating. Yeah pick this character and if you do that he does that and if you do that he does an anti-air. They just gave me a whole strategy! You know, like do this and you can anti-air with this move and you can get close by doing that. And I was like, okay!

Well actually they didn’t tell me what gets close, they just told me what the special grab was and what the air special grab was. So I knew that. If someone jumps in I can do that, if they do that I can do that. So I had a little mixup. And I had to work out everything else in the matches, in the actual matches, in the actual tournament matches to teach myself how to apply it. And that was it, really.

Once I got that…if you look at my top 8 matches you can see I don’t actually know much about the game. But the matches leading up to that I did look a lot better than I did then. That was really embarrassing having to play on stream.

I was like…I realized that I’m on top 8, now I got to play on stream and it’s so embarrassing I’m not good at all!

M: (Laughs.)

R: And obviously once you hear that oh, Ryan Hart made top 8? He’s on stream? Okay, we’ve got to watch this, you know?

M: Heheh yeah!

R: It was such an anti-climax. But I am going to pick up the game. Even before Shadowloo [Showdown] I’ve decided I want to play the game. So I’ll start playing the game. So yeah, that was good.

M: Yeah. I just thought that was hilarious. You just asked which character has a piledriver and you just got top 8!

R: (Laughs.) And got top 8 now innit. It was a good bit of fun.

So yeah, back to the Ehrgeiz story. And basically I wanted to find a character I could understand. That could help me…I wanted a character that could connect to my basics with other fighting games and help me understand the system of the new game.

…Didn’t find one.

M: (Laughs.)

R: I tried…I dunno what her name was. Yuko or something. She had a yoyo. Or maybe she was called Yoyo actually.

Yep. A policewoman with a yoyo.

M: Oh okay. Heh. Bizarre.

R: This was Japanese Yuko…who had a yoyo…but anyway. I tried using her but it didn’t really work out. But my worry was that there would already be so many good players. How on earth am I going to get good enough in three days, because it was in three days, to win this trip?

And um…I waited till the evening, because I thought good players would come in the evening. No one really came. It didn’t seem like it was that popular. I got a friend down to train with me. A friend also really good at Street Fighter, his name was Prince Hatim [unclear], Hatim, what should we do? Who should we pick? And he was like, why don’t we pick this guy? And he picks Cloud.

‘Cos Cloud from Final Fantasy was in the game as well.

M: Wow Cloud was in the game, oh.

R: Cloud was in the game, the dog from Final Fantasy was in the game as well.

M: Red XIII or something like that?

R: Yeah, yeah. So there was a few characters in there. Because it was a cross, you know. It was one of the first crossover fighting games now that I think about it.

M: Yeah.

R: And yeah. He picks Cloud.

And then I start using Yoyo, you know. And I realize that…I can’t block.

M: …What?

R: There’s a block button. But you can’t block the sword. Because it’s a sword.

M: Ohhh. That’s so weird!

R: So this guy’s chopping my energy down. And there’s nothing I can do about it!

M: (Laughs.)

R: I’m like, that character’s so broken. I’ve got a new character!

M: (Laughs.)

R: And I use that character, and I go straight to Cloud. And we just start hacking and slashing away. It was hilarious. And that became our tournament characters. We both learned our lesson, it was tournament, just pick Cloud, he’s obviously broken! Just do that. (Laughs.)

I’M SO TOP TIER!!

So we both go to this tournament. And um…not many people came, to be honest. It was a championship but it wasn’t that many players there at all. So I somehow get to…my friend lost, I don’t know who he lost to. But Hattim lost to someone. So I got to the grand final against… the dog!

M: Yeah, heh.

R: And when you fight the dog, you can’t block the bite! Because it’s his teeth and they’re sharp and they bite your skin away when you’re trying to block. They thought about how they could make it sort of realistic, I guess.

M: Sort of realistic yeah.

R: And this guy beats me like two rounds. It was best of three rounds, one game.

M: One game!

R: A trip to Japan was based on one game, SBO style.

And this guy was using the dog and he bites… and this guy doesn’t play games. You could see he didn’t even have any love for games at all. He just wanted a trip to Japan. He came down in his lunch hour, business suit in a suit and tie. And just by the way he talked about games…he didn’t care about playing it afterwards and he didn’t care about…he didn’t play any other fighting games. And you could see he didn’t have…he probably couldn’t do a fireball. He had no talent; he didn’t seem to have any ability for fighting games. But because this was just hack and slash…

M: Yeah heheh.

R:… He was well happy! He had his dog and he was in the grand final and he was beating down this little punk next to him…he had everything going his way.

And I dunno, one thing happened in the round. He hit this crate or something, and I just got the jump on him and I managed to come back that round. And I beat him, and I ended up winning like 3-2 really tight.

And so I’ve won this trip, I’ve actually won this tournament!

M: (Laughs.)

R: It’s hilarious. I am now the champion of this game I know nothing about. So they send me to Japan, and this is seriously like…just feeding me to the wolves.

Oh my word…it was so bad…

But I actually built up quite a reputation in Japan that I didn’t know about at the time.

M: Ah, that’s really interesting.

R: Just purely based on Japanese people who had visited London to study for holidays and stuff like that. And they had met me there. And they always said, hey Ryan, if you ever get the chance to come to Japan, come along. And here’s my details.

And I’d always take everybody’s details. But I always thought…yeah I’d never get to go to Japan. Who, me? Never. Not in a million years.

M: Heheh.

But here I am! In Tokyo. It’s so weird.

M: Yeah, thanks to Cloud.

R: I know, right. Thanks to the sword, the cheap sword.

And the agenda was: I arrive on Friday. Stay on Saturday for the tournament. Leave on Sunday. And I’ve never been…I think when I went to Japan that was the first time I’ve ever been on a plane, you know.

And that was a pretty short agenda.

M: (Laughs.)

R: As seeing I’ve never been to Japan and it’s kind of like a dream of mine to go… And now I’m going to be gone in two days. It was like no. this can’t happen. Anyway, I went to the tournament. And I was semi-confident at the time. But they had a cabinet in the dressing room. Because there was a makeup room and you kind of…

M: There was a make-up room?

R: There was a whole make-up room, there were make-up artists, and you’d have to wear these clothes…

M: Awesome.

R: You’d have to sit down for half an hour in front of the mirror and let them fix you up.

And then there was a practice cabinet so you could go on and practice your combos and stuff. And of course everyone starts playing versus. And in terms of how far world championships go…this is probably the most realistic world championship I’ve ever been to. Because they had someone from…oh well actually no, it wasn’t that realistic. Because they had Asian countries and they had me from the UK. So they had Japan, Korea, China…They had a couple of other countries. And then they just had me. And that was a bit crap, you know. They didn’t have anyone from America. Oh…did they? No I don’t think they had anyone from America, they didn’t have anyone from South America, no one from like Russia or like anywhere. So it was pretty bad in that sense.

But anyway, so I’m there and it’s the world championship. Heh. Very common.

And then um…yeah. On the practice room, on the cabinet, I decided to play this guy. They were all playing versus. And the first thing that he does is parry my sword.

M: What!

R: The first button I press gets parried and I just eat some fat combo. And all of a sudden I realize: the game’s got parries.

M: (Laughs.)

R: (Laughs.)

I’m at the world final, and I didn’t even know this. And this guy just did it as if it was obvious, you know. Like, don’t you know? What do you mean?

M: (Laughs.)

R: And I felt so bad. Because it’s like…wow. I haven’t got a chance. And obviously he beat me easily.

And so basically against these things that you can’t block, you parry? That’s the system of the game.

M: Ahhh, right right! That makes more sense.

R: The things that you can’t block- are always slow. So the sword is actually quite slow. But because you can’t block it, it doesn’t matter. It feels fast. When you can’t block it, I mean. But because it is slow, to the trained eye that can parry, it’s nothing. And this guy just parried everything. And I don’t know if it’s only that certain characters can parry, I just can’t remember now. But yeah, you know, he parried me away. And I watched them play each other and it was phenomenal, man. These guys were really experts, you know?

To cut a long story short, the guy from Osaka won it. He came down, they called him up and he was in bed. Aren’t you coming, they said.

Oh it’s today?!

This guy wakes up, gets on the fastest train, just comes down wearing almost like his pyjamas basically. And this guy was hilarious. He won the thing. He won the whole tournament.

And at the end of the tournament everyone has to give a little speech. So I had my translator there and the Korean guy… The Korean guy was the most profound. He said something like; at the moment, the Japanese are dominant at all fighting games but one day Korea will beat…

M: Will take over.

R: …Yeah will take over. And then shortly after that we had the surgence of Koreans destroying the Japanese at Tekken Tag.

M: Right, right, right.

R: And then we had Korea beating them at some other game. And then we had like Poongko doing stuff against the Japanese and Infiltration.

But it was such a profound thing to say. Especially as it happened quite soon afterwards. Because I think the Korean guy lost in the grand final but it was really close. It was like really really close. So yeah, for him to come out like that. And it really seemed like he knew what he was talking about. It was like some prophet, you know?

M: (Laughs.)

R: The way he came out saying [indecipherable]. On stage.

M: It was like Elijah…

R: I know. And when he said that, all the Japanese did their ooohhh! You know, it was a  moment! It was a moment to just…think.

You’re like, okay, that’s kind of deep, okay.

M: So when are you gonna do that? At an event Europe is gonna…

R: Take over?

M: Take over.

R: Oh we got some work to do for that. We got some work to do.

I can’t actually remember… I’ve really gone off on a long…

M: On a tangent.

R: Because I don’t remember what your original question was.

M: It was your history of sponsorship…

R: So it is kind of relevant. Yeah.

M: But yeah, another question I have is…

6)      I kind of get this sense that e-sports in Europe is kind of at a higher level compared to a lot of [fighting game] communities…e-sports and sponsorships and things like that.

R: That’s because e-sports has been around for a lot longer than fighting gamers realize. You know, it didn’t begin with sponsored Street Fighter players. It’s been around for a long long time. So a lot of these e-sports teams that are around now have been doing it for years, they’ve just started incorporating fighting games and we now know about it. So, in Europe, yes, it’s a lot more developed because that’s how long it’s around for. And in America it’s like…

M: Yeah it’s like a step behind or even Japan right?

R: Yeah. Oh Japan is way behind.

M: Yeah, so that’s real interesting.

R: Europe and America…America’s behind Europe, and then Japan and Korea.

Well Korea is…

M: Korea is catching up quick.

R: Korea has been around, because obviously Starcraft. So they’re in the loop kind of thing. But they’re only in the loop for certain genres, certain games. But yeah, I think Japan is probably trailing the farthest.

But they’re all starting to get into it now. But then again, these PC games aren’t that popular in Japan. And that’s why they’re not so involved. Because it hasn’t really been as relevant for them, you know?

7)      M: So what other things do you like to do? Do you follow football?

R: Uhh…no. (Laughs.)

I mean, I like football, I just don’t follow it. I don’t spend enough time on the ground to really follow football!

Um, no but I do like football. I like Man U…

M: You like Man U? Do you know what just happened like yesterday…

R: No…

M: Okay maybe I shouldn’t spoil it for you.

R: Did…okay…

M: Did you want me to spoil it for you?

R: Yeah.

M: Okay well, basically you know Man U and Man City are tied in points right?

R: Yeah, yeah.

M: So it came down to the last game of the season. Man City is ahead on goal difference.

Man U won their game. And Man City’s down like 1-2. And they score the equalizer in like the 90th minute and then all the…sorry they were behind two goals, and all the Man U fans are already celebrating and everything.

Basically they scored two goals in the last four minutes. In the 94th minute, they scored…and they just ran crazy…

R: Okay, I didn’t know that. I’m not a real fan! (Laughs.)

M: (Laughs.)

R: I should have known that! It was too epic. It was far too epic not have known.

M: So yeah, that was freaking epic. That was like…

R: Oh wow. I gotta catch highlights or something.

M: But yeah so um…

R: Much too busy riding Tiger airways…

M: (Laughs.)

R: To know about that.

M: Riding the turbulence.

8)      So yeah. You’re basically, as you mentioned before, one of the few top players that can play different games at a high level. What sort of training regimen do you do to maintain that level?

R: There’s two things. One is what I want to play. And one is what I should play.

M: Right.

R: And that’s the battle that goes on for me at home. Because there’s times that I know that I should be training on KOF because I’m better…I’m not as good as that, for example, if that’s the game. And I shouldn’t play Street Fighter x Tekken because I’m already better at that and a tournament for KOF is coming up whereas a tournament for SFxTekken isn’t coming up.

But sometimes I have to follow my heart. There’s a setup I really want to practice. Or there’s a character I really wanna learn. And it gets quite difficult to balance everything and juggle things fairly if you want to maintain your maximum capacity on every game. So you have to kind of set…make a timetable of how long you want to play a certain game. Sometimes it overruns a bit because you’re still in the flow of what you’re doing. But yeah, you basically set a time-table and you have a time-frame for how long you play each game.

And um, you have milestones you want to reach for each game as well.

M: Is there any like things that you do…for example I notice that your character selection is pretty consistent. You always pick like “main characters” like Ryu in the Street Fighter series, you pick the Mishimas in the Tekken series. Does that help you kind of like streamline your training for the games?

R: One thing that people don’t know is I’m always a multi-character player. There’s no game where I can only use one character. Unless it’s a game that I don’t care about. Every game that I like or I’m passionate about I can always use multiple characters.

M: Ah! Interesting.

R: So on Street Fighter I can use like…many twenty. Half or more of the cast at least to a good level. And on King of Fighters the same and on Tekken the same too. With Tekken 6 I didn’t really care about it so I didn’t really learn any other characters. But every Tekken before that I’ve been able to use lots of characters.

Tekken 5 I can use almost everyone. Tekken Tag I can use almost everyone as well. And it’s only because eventual results will show me that I’m doing a lot better with some characters than others, and that’ll end up becoming my main characters.

It was never the initial intention. I never started out as a Tekken player wanting to main Mishimas. Never. And in Tekken 3 my main was like Paul. When Tekken Tag first came out my main was Anna and Nina. A lot of people don’t know that. And after that it was King and Armour King for a while. So only later on when I’ve explored almost all the cast I like at least, when I realize, hey, you know. These guys I’m kinda doing well with them. And if a tournament’s coming up why would you not pick them?

If you’re doing the best with them, why would you pick the team you’re not as good with.

On Street Fighter I also use multiple characters too. You know, I use Yun, T Hawk…

M: Oni for a while.

R: Oni. I use Guile, I use Ken. Fei Long…Yeah lots of characters. Abel, Dee Jay. But yeah anyway. The list goes on.

So basically the thing about that is…

Street Fighter has so many matchups you gotta learn!

M: That is true, yeah.

R: So I kind of can’t afford to be just here and there. I have to fix my attention to one character, learn the matchups, and then kind of stick with it. It’s gotten so deep now that you kinda can’t really mess about in the same way that you used to be able to.

Before you just knew the fundamentals of every…like you knew how each character fought. So you almost devise a strategy against almost anyone. But now it’s so deep, isn’t it? To know what option selects you can use. To know if this hits their backdash. To know what move beats what on wakeup. There’s so much to know now. It’s not so generic anymore.

M: Like in Vanilla there were like sixteen characters. So if you could play two characters that’s what, thirty matchups to learn. But in AE 2012, if you play two characters you gotta learn like sixty matchups, that’s crazy!

R: And um…if I was from Japan, maybe. But I’m not, I’m from Europe. And in Europe we don’t have a player that uses everyone. Just like the last tournament I lost to Evil Ryu and we don’t have a single Evil Ryu player. And even if we did, would he be as good? There’s so many things right?

M: Yeah, so many factors.

R: So I mean, when you’re trying to learn matchups you really have to focus on these things as well. You have to look at…I mean every community suffers from lack of players or a lack of characters. So you always have to look at what we can get with our main characters and what we can learn about the matchups we don’t know as well.

And uh, that needs to be a focus now. Especially for anyone willing to go to internationals tournaments because there’ll definitely be that T-Hawk player you’ve never seen. There’s be that…

So I dunno man, it’s just one of those things.

M: Right.

9)      So yeah, what do you think of the new Virtua Fighter?

 

Like what was your favourite moment of SS? For me it kinda has to be that Fuudo drinking the…that was epic!

R: (Laughs.)

My most epic moment, and people don’t really remember I think, but my comeback against Mike.

M: Um, which Mike?

R: There was only one Mike. In the loser’s final.

M: Oh Michael Tan?

R: No no, in VF.

M: Oh, VF! Sorry, Iron Myke, yeah sorry.

R: Against Iron Myke, yeah.

My comeback against Iron Myke was the best thing. Because I don’t know if people realize, but he was one game up, one game and two rounds up, and in the final round he had a full bar and I had nearly nothing. And I came back to win that round and win the whole best of three set.

So that is way better than just one moment where Fuudo rings me out from drinking.

M: That’s comedy more…

R: Yeah, that’s just fun. That’s just funny. But in terms of like quality, and like skill and mindgames, nothing’s better than that.

I mean a lot of people don’t know about me versus Fuudo is I was never planning to win that. I wasn’t going into it like I’m going to beat this guy. It was always going to be; this is Fuudo’s free tournament. I said it before the tournament, this is free lunch for Fuudo. The whole VF thing at Shadowloo is just free lunch for Fuudo. Because he’s that much better than everyone else.

It was the first time that I ever played Final Showdown. So the fact that I got to the grand final is…

M: Is pretty…

R: …Is good and I don’t think I deserved to be mocked, because he was going to win however he wanted to. You know what I’m saying.

So…that’s cool. I’m really happy to lose to Fuudo for that because he’s a master of VF. And I respect him for his skill in VF. And I haven’t had any time with the game at all.

M: Speaking of multi-game champions, how can somebody be like a Virtua Fighter champion and an EVO champion for Street Fighter? That seems…

R: Well, once you’re a champion for VF, you can be a champion in any game.

M: Right.

R: VF…VF trains you for life.

M: (Laughs.)

R: VF’s the uncle that bullies you. He’ll train you for life. Like I swear, like…

M: VF trains you for life.

R: Yeah. VF is that game that sets you up for anything.

M: That should be the motto on the cover “VF trains you for life.”

R: Because some people will try VF and it’s too hard for them. But if you’re one of those players that can play VF and be successfully good at VF, there’s no fighting game you can’t play. That’s just how good that game is.

Like, it will set your mind up to understand how mind games are supposed to work. That’s just how it is man, that’s just…I don’t know. There’s no other way I can explain it.

You ask anyone…not just anyone that understands the game, because that’s not what I’m talking about. You ask anyone that is actually good at the game…

M: Mastered VF.

R: Yeah. You have to be good. Sounds really elitist but I think to know what you’re talking about in that sense you have to have experienced it. A lot of people understand, but unless you’ve experienced it, there’s also so far you can go with how you express. Because a lot of it is from the feeling. So if you haven’t felt what it’s like to be outguessed on a high level that you understand or to outguess someone on that high level at well. And consistently play like that, you’re not gonna know. You’re not gonna know.

It’s not something you can just know about because someone told you or you seen it or you understand the game. You have to live it.

M: So I’ve heard that the new Virtua Fighter they’ve simplified a lot of the systems, so do you think it’s lost a bit of that…

R: It might have. I don’t know yet because I haven’t put time into it…

R: Right. It was basically your first time playing the game…

R: And I’m afraid…it might have. When I played it the other time I was like…meaaurghh. It’s so…it’s so simple now. It feels like it’s so easy for him to get close and do big damage.

Whereas before…

Like a problem I have is…

Someone somewhere decided that games needed to all have massive combos.

M: Yeah. Who decided that?

R: Yeah. I don’t know where that came from.

A game of chess is never about taking five pieces at once. You take one piece at a time and you work your way through the opponent.

So I don’t know why games needed to be anything different. It’s almost like now we have to have this system that makes everything quick. Let’s ring him out. Let’s put him against the wall and do a hundred hit combo. I don’t understand why you would to want to end it quickly. If it’s an enjoyable experience…

M: You’d want to prolong it right?

R: Yeah, if it’s an enjoyable experience. If it’s fun…people say games are fun. But it was fun, why do you want it to end so quickly?

You know? I don’t get it.

M: So is that why Marvel is one of the games that you don’t play?

R: No, it definitely isn’t. But I’d love to get into Marvel and just rob everyone. I really would. But I just don’t have the time, to be honest. Marvel is sick. Like…but my friends tell me that you know, Marvel is really easy…to want to quit.

M: Oh yeah! I know exactly what they mean.

R: And Zak told me that and…

M: It’s the most salt-inducing game on earth.

R: That boy…oh my days.

M: Heheh. Oh my days.

R: I remember this one time when I think I just lost…I don’t play Marvel but I just lost some tournament. I think it was SFxTekken. And I went to buy a hamburger outside and my friend was like…

(Laughs.)

I went to buy a hamburger and I went; man, this is well salty!

And he went, no it’s just because you lost.

The burger? You know, because he tried some and he said it’s not salty at all. It’s just because you lost.

But if I played Marvel I don’t think I’d be able eat anything after that!

M: (Laughs.)

R: Damn.

But no, I do want to get into Marvel because it is, you know, it is such a hype game right?

M: Yeah it is.

R: I wanna be involved. I feel so…left out. I wanna be part of that. That’s just too hype man. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever want to play a game just because it’s hype. Because that is one game that gets my vote.

M: That was hype in…

R: Yeah man, that’s the game of the tournament every tournament now!

M: Yeah! Pretty much.

R: EVO…Shadowloo…like everything I go to Marvel is the game. Aren’t they having it at SBO?

M: Yeah!

R: They’re having Marvel at SBO because of the hype!

M: Marvel at SBO!

R: They know that game is so hype, that if they don’t have that they’re going to be missing out.

M: Yeah and is it going to be single game like SBO style because that would the most random crap… (Laughs.)

R: Ohhoho… That is gonna be sought mayhem man.

M: (Laughs.)

R: But yeah. I think that Marvel, sorry Japan having these one game and off game tournaments, that’s just so brass? That’s outdated man.

Or as the Americans say, that’s played out. Like seriously, how can you still be doing that? What part of one game isn’t enough don’t you understand? You know, like in back in the day when they were the tournament to be at…but they’re not anymore.

I can perfectly like…people can miss SBO now and it’s not the greatest thing. It’s not the biggest deal anymore, you know.

Yeah sure people might want to go to be there but you know you don’t necessarily want to enter because one game and…you know.

M: But I heard that AE top 8 now has double elim…

R: Best of 3.

M: Oh best of 3?

R: When they said you have two lives…I heard you have two lives I don’t know whether it means double elim or if it’s best of three, like first to two.

M: Oh I’m not too sure but at least you know…

R: It’s a bit more now.

M: So maybe it’s a sign of the times.

R: Oh wow, they’re so proud. They didn’t want to give up their best of one game! It took them this long…

M: (Laughs.) Only like fifteen years or something.

R: I know right? Naw but that’s cool, that’s cool. SBO’s a big deal. I know that it’s a big event for them. And they wanna keep that classic…

M: Arcade feel…

R: It is what is kinda thing. They want to stick with it with how it used to be. That’s cool.

10)   M: So yeah. You’ve also talked on your blog about Street Fighter x Tekken. You said you like the game, but as a Tekken player you kind of had problems with it.

R: Yeah. And um…

Basically Street x Tekken, I really like the game. But I’m a 2D player. Like I mentioned, I’m a KoF player, I’m a Street Fighter player, I’ve played all the old classics. Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown, a lot of the games that you don’t even hear about anymore.

I’ve even played…I’ve spent so much time playing Power Instincts on the Super Nintendo, you know. It’s crazy. Wearing teeth with the grandma and stuff, it’s crazy. I’ve spent so much time on all kinds of fighting games. So I know how to play a 2D fighting game.

But I also know how to play a 3D fighting game as well. I’ve got experience in Soul Calibur and Soul Edge, Tekken, VF, couple of others than have come out along the years as well.

So basically the reason I talked about that  on my blog is because I had a lot of Tekken players who came to me personally just to communicate…how SFxT doesn’t cater for them. And a lot of the things I talked about are things they had said to me. And they didn’t feel that the game supported them and really allowed them to express themselves in a way they wanted to be expressed in a fighting game.

Now SFxT is of course the Street Fighter version of the Street Fighter x Tekken game. Which is perfectly understood. That doesn’t mean you’re allowed to not include the Tekken community.

There are some Tekken players who have come onto SFxT and are happily involved. But this isn’t about them. It is irrelevant to them. It’s irrelevant to the people that are happy. Because this is about the people…that are not happy talking.

So if you’re happy, it’s irrelevant.

This is purely for the players who’ve come into SFxT as pure Tekken players, not that good at Street Fighter. Maybe once upon a time they wanted to be good at SFIV, tried, didn’t work out, went back into Tekken.

And they thought, wow. This is gonna be my chance to get involved now. Finally something I can understand.

M: To bridge the communities.

R: Right. And they’ve come in and seen that it’s actually just Street Fighter with Tekken skins. And now they’re not happy and those players don’t have anywhere to go. They don’t have an outlet. And I became the outlet for them. I’ve taken all the crap for it!

But these players deserve a voice as well.

M: That’s true, yeah.

R: And that’s why I just decided to do that for them. That’s all that went on.

M: That’s really interesting because you’re one of the rare players that played both games at a high level.

R: And that’s why they came to me, because I would understand because I play both.

M: So I mean personally, I mean, you talk about the juggle system a little bit in your blog. But do you wanna elaborate about…

R: The juggle system didn’t have to be lengthy. It didn’t have to be fifty eight hit juggles or whatever. It could just be something that might be similar to what happened to Tekken. Or relate closely enough so the Tekken players feel comfortable with what they’re doing. Because at the moment, everything is like completely new and it’s like…well I’m just playing a Street Fighter character that looks like a Tekken character. And that’s all.

And I think me saying that the juggle system could’ve been more Tekken-like is just me looking for an element where the Tekken players felt comfortable. So if it wasn’t the juggle system, it could have been the throw system. If it wasn’t the high/low system. I don’t know. Something else.

But the Tekken players, the ones who aren’t comfortable, are really uncomfortable. And if you decide if you’re gonna make a Street Fighter x Tekken game, you’re obviously trying to bridge the gap somewhere right? You’re trying to maximize on your target demographic by including the Tekken community as well.

So if that doesn’t work then…

M: What is the purpose of the game.

R: Yeah. If you’ve missed that, then project…mission failed. Right?

So that’s why I’m saying this for those players who didn’t get what they wanted to get from SFxTekken and are now not in the community because of that. Even though they’re strong or pro or beginner or just…fans of the Tekken franchise and people who are good at Tekken, you know?

M: Okay, that’s cool. I’ll start wrapping up things, but did you wanna quickly talk about the London scene. How things are setup over there; are you guys based around arcades or local meetups or net cafés? Who are the community leaders and so on and so forth.

R: The London scene is based on…

It used to be based on arcades. Heavily, heavily based on arcades. We didn’t have anywhere where we went to play arcades at all.

And then the arcades died out, as with everywhere. We kind of fell onto console, and mainly people at home, or get togethers at someone’s house.

And then online appeared and then things went online. Um…we still have a couple of arcades. But the arcades aren’t maintained. I think you have the same problem in Australia.

M: In Australia. You played at Bluehouse, that was horrible right?

R: Yeah.

The arcade’s not maintained. The buttons don’t work, no one fixes it. They come over, hey, the buttons doesn’t work! They come over and press it, no it works, it works! No no I mean it’s intermittent!

No it works, keep playing, here’s your credit back.

M: (Laughs.)

R: So they don’t understand. You technicians who don’t know about game stuff. So we have the same problem so most people just stay at home now. We have a big problem in development because we don’t have anywhere to play regularly. We don’t really have our base that we can go to to level up, you know?

We have weekly tournaments, we do. Which is really good. That’s probably the meat of our London scene now. We have one location, called Gamerbase. And that’s in Piccadilly Circus, it’s inside a building called Trocadero.

And if you go in Gamerbase, on Monday we have SFxT tournament. On Tuesday we have SSFIV. On Wednesday I think it’s kind of open playing field. I’ve been there before and seen like Blazblue…sometimes I’ve seen KoF, sometimes I’ve seen other games. Thursday is Marvel day, and Friday is Soul Calibur.

So almost every day of the week you can go there and be in a tournament, you know, if you play the game.

M: That sounds…awesome!

R: Yeah it’s really good. It’s really really good. I mean Gamerbase has really supported us and helped us through…we would have nothing. Offline wise we wouldn’t have anything solid if it wasn’t for them.

You know, regular…And it’s not just Gamerbase. Richard and Mark Denton. They’re the dragon twins, Shin and Sho Dragon. We have a really good community put together by Bulletproof, um Simeon Lansiquot, called Neo Empire, we have a website; neoempire.com.

And we have Heart of Gaming. Which a guy called Mark (Firebug) [last name unclear] made. So he’s kinda got a venue and made that into an arcade. He’s got cabinets and he’s got consoles there. So we can go there and play now.

And we have a guy called Achmed [unsure] Xbox Live account was kb1121, so people know him by that.

But he supported the community for a long time as well. He supported the community members…well some of the community members that he liked. But these are all people that have come together and allowed us to have places to play, where players have been able to benefit from and level up.

So that is a big benefit for us.

And it’s not easy.

Because some people just don’t have the setup. They live with their parents or they live with their family and it’s not convenient to have people over for gaming. That’s just how it is.

So we need these things. And we need more, really. The current issue we have now is that we have tournaments but we don’t have any…

M: Grinding sessions or training sessions.

R: Yeah we don’t have any leveling up focused sessions where we just go to learn new things. Because in that tournament, that best of three, you’re not really trying to learn. You’re using what you know to win.

M: Yeah. If you play two games and you’re out…

R: Yeah. And that’s the difference. We actually need…because when it goes international, we need that level. We have the talent, we definitely have the talent, and people have the time. But we just don’t have the place to go there for that purpose.

M: So how many regulars do you get to, let’s say, the Street Fighter event every week. How many players do you guys get?

R: Um, well, it goes from something like…on a good day we could have forty. On a bad day we could have fifteen maybe, or sixteen.

M: That’s pretty good. We run weeklies now in Melbourne, and we have a big of problem where the attendance wavers back and forth…I guess it’s too much of a strain on certain [players]…

But yeah that’s pretty interesting to hear.

R: So yeah, that’s pretty much how our scene is at the moment. So we’ve got like Winner Stays On, Logan who’s doing the Marvel and the Street Fighter, Logan-sama. So, a grime DJ, one of the really famous grime DJs.

M: Cool.

R: And in his spare time he runs our Street Fighter and Marvel tournament, so. So we got all these guys, Dawgtanian who is the Capcom Community Manager putting on…he puts on the SFxT event on Mondays with the EX Dragon Project guys which is like Jamal…Shin and Sho Dragons and those guys.

M: And do you guys benefit from being in Europe so do you guys like travel around to France and you know, just across the…

R: Not really. There’s isn’t enough…I’ve always said for a long time that there isn’t enough unity in Europe. We’re very separated because we are different countries.

M: Yeah, I mean you would think that would be your big advantage. Of being really close together.

R: Yeah, but we’re not close enough. We’re close, but it’s still a flight.

M: That’s true! Yeah.

R: Sydney’s close to Melbourne, but it’s still a plane. You know what I mean?

So it’s close but not close enough. I mean, we all speak different languages, which is one division. We all have different lifestyles, and we all don’t know each other that well.

I know a lot of the French community quite well now because I’ve been there so many times and we’ve got each other on Xbox Live or on Facebook and you know, I’m close to quite a few of those guys and that’s really good. But not everyone is in my position. Not everyone is able to travel as much as I travel. And stuff like that.

So it’s quite difficult for a lot of the players and we don’t always come together just because of that issue. So the only time that we really get to meet is probably for one big tournament. Maybe like, twice or three times a year. And that’s a shame, because we’re never getting to have sessions with each other.

If all of Europe got together…

M: Combined…that’s so much matchup knowledge.

R: …To have serious sessions, we would be insanely good. We would be insanely good. And not to sound big-headed or anything, but I think we’d definitely like be on par or definitely better than the US. Yeah.

Because I don’t know though because for Street Fighter maybe the US have a similar problem.

M: Yeah, geographically, yeah.

R: A lot of the top players are spread out as well. So yeah, I guess it would probably be the same.

But yeah, I’ve always said that if all of Europe and all of US were all together, we could like take on Japan and Korea together…

I’ve always hoped that…

M: Didn’t Keits come up with this idea of Shoryuken city or something where like all the fighting game players in the world settle in one city and just grind, and all work and live in the same city.

R: Psychhh….

Wow.

M: The fighting game utopia.

R: If there was ever a time for the words “wishful thinking”…

M: (Laughs.)

R: Right now by…

But no, you know what? That would be sick. I would do anything for that to happen, man. That would be just too much. Especially with my travelling now and stuff…to have a place to settle like that? I wouldn’t even need to travel.

M: Yeah, that would be amazing.

R: Just go next door. See Filipino Champ.

M: (Laughs.)

R: So you up for that first to ten yeah?

No man, I’m cooking!

Yeah alright, my bad…

Go to the other side and it’ll be like Justin Wong…

That’ll be too much man.

M: That’ll be…

Maybe one day. In five years time.

R: One day, yeah. Or maybe even just like a few houses dotted around where a few gamers live. You have a few houses that are like fighting game houses where a few top players for that area all just live together.

M: So not Shoryuken City but Shoryuken Avenue. Or Shoryuken Boulevard or something.

R: (Laughs.)

Man that would be…wow.

That is what I call a dream.

That is what I call a dream.

M: Just need some billionaire to buy…to set it up…

Okay so last question…

R: I know, right.

You make it sound so easy. Just one billionaire.

Just the one!

M: Yeah heheh. Just the one. Yeah, yeah.

R: Alright, go.

11)    Yeah so, who has the best Afro in the fighting game community?

R: Oh man. Isn’t it that dude? That dude Cole? I swear it’s like Cole?

M: Jason Cole?

R: I think he has a better afro than me. He’s doesn’t have an all-year round afro than me because mine changes style all the time. Sometimes it’s like kind of like little dreads, sometimes it’s smooth around like now.

Sometimes it’s short sometimes it’s a bit longer. But his one is just consistent.

M: (Laughs.)

And the winner is…

R: He’s that consistent Ryu. I’m jumping characters all the time, like…

Yeah…Cole gets the win man. Just for consistency.

M: Right. He’s got the Japanese mindset to characters in his hair…

R: You know he’s so good at focus [indecipherable], I respect that, I respect that. I take second place, probably. Heheh.

Ryan looking dapper at SS2012.

M: Second place? That’s pretty good, second place. What about Combofiend’s afro when he was young?

R: Yeah but that doesn’t count anymore…That doesn’t count!

M: He hasn’t maintained it.

R: Heheh. No actually his afro is pretty smooth as well. I was really impressed on Cross Assault. He maintains that. I like that, I like that.

M: (Laughs.)

R: He’s got that level. We have to play for second.

But I got more variation! (Laughs.) I win based on variation.

12)    Shoutouts, any final thoughts?

R: Shoutouts to Western Wolves man. If it wasn’t for you guys I wouldn’t be out here right now having this great interview, eating all this nice food and playing these games. So shoutouts to Western Wolves, Burger [indecipherable] Phillip. Shoutouts to Lowland Lions, I know we’ve kind of separated now, now we’re a sister company, but you guys are still great. And looking forward to be being back in Europe. Shoutouts to Wednesday’s own [unsure].

Looking forward to playing in that again. Dawgtanian, twins, Jamal, you guys are cool. And yeah man. Shoutouts to Western Wolves, my teammates. F-word and Andreas.

So what name do you like better? Hands. Or Premium Hands?

M: Premium Hands. Yeah.

R: Okay. Because I said Premium Hands, and they were like, Ryan that name’s sick! Premium Hands!

And everyone was laughing in the car.

So there you go Andreas. There’s your answer buddy.

M: Premium Hands. Hands down! Heheh.

R: Hah Premium hands, hands down! That’s what he said! Too sick man…put it there, put it there.

(Fists were bumped.)

M: Yeah. (Laughs.)

So yeah, any more shoutouts or that’s it?

R: No that’s cool for now. I can’t think of any others. I’ll probably get slapped later.

Actually you know what, shoutouts to the Alis as well. If it wasn’t for them, they’ve just been so cool. The whole Shadowloo Showdown and putting me up and everything. Shoutouts to the Tekken crew in Sydney, thanks to you guys. I had a great time thanks to you. And the Street Fighter crew actually. I had a great time at York Street Battle as well, thanks for putting that on. And um, yeah just shoutouts to all you players I’ve met in Australia. I don’t remember all those names, please forgive me. But like I had such a great time, next year I’m definitely going be back.

M: Next year? You’re coming next year for sure?

R: Sooner.

M: Sooner?

R: Sooner.

M: Heheh, for Christmas?

R: In fact, what time’s my flight? Let me just miss it real quick! (Laughs.)

M: (Laughs.)

R: But yeah no, thanks again guys. I had a great time. And thanks to you.

M: Alright, no worries. Thanks very much Ryan. Cheers.

R: Pleasure.

M: Thanks very much.

 

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One Response to Don’t be a Scrub Podcast Episode 22: Ryan Hart – Post SS2012 special!

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