Guard Cancel: PhoeniX

Guard Cancel is an interview series profiling KOF community members. The goal is to get to know the people behind the tags. Guard Cancel will be published every Monday. If you’d like to be featured, email or PM me in the forum.

1. How long have you played KOF? Which KOF was your first? Which is your favorite?
I’ve been playing since around the start of 2010. I had dabbled in it before, but never cared much. KOF2002 is the first one I got into. KOF2002UM is probably my favorite, though I hardly get to play it.

2. Why KOF over all of the other fighters?
I liked the offense, and I liked that reversals were not that good. After a year of trying to like street fighter IV, not having to worry about someone mashing dragon punch was a real relief.

Now, I Like KOF because of the very few legitimate 50/50 mixups. Hitting the opponent in KOF is a lot more about getting the opponent to do something stupid, or conditioning him to look for something else than you intend to hit him with. It’s all reactions and reading the opponent, and far less just having a 50% chance of hitting the opponent or getting blocked/countered.

3. Are you a tournament player? If so, list your tournament rankings.
Not for King of Fighters. I’ve played Third Strike, Street Fighter 4 and a bit of Alpha 2 in local tournaments. I’ve never been good at any Street Fighter 4, I’ve done okay in local Third Strike tournaments. I’ve done well in Alpha 2 tournaments, but that doesn’t mean much, because I am the only person who plays that game seriously.

4. Do you have a local scene or do you rely on online play?
I have no local scene for KOF whatsoever, the Netherlands is not a good place for KOF loving people. A couple of people dabble in KOF a bit, and they are interested in picking up XIII, so who knows. I mostly have to rely on online play through GGPO via #SNKPlaymore on Efnet.

5. Do you prefer pad or stick? Why is that your preference?
I prefer stick. Back when I got into fighting games around 2005, I played Guilty Gear XX #Reload. I thought I needed a stick to improve my execution. Fact is, my execution still wasn’t good enough to get the hard stuff down in GGXX#R. Nevertheless, I would never want to go back I’m too used to it now.

Moreover, it is much easier to me to switch between sticks than it is to switch between pads. So when I’m at a tournament that runs on Playstation 3, I can still borrow someone’s stick and have little to know trouble with execution.

6. What advice do you have for new players?
Play a lot. If you don’t have a local scene, play online, ask for advice. Get the basic execution down and then learn to block. Blocking isn’t hard in KOF, it just requires you to be a bit quicker, but you can defend against almost anything on reaction. Learn to do that before learning the more offensive counters, and only then start thinking about building an offense.

7. How do you choose a character and team? How do you choose the order?
I want to pick my characters because of the way they look and, in the second place, the way they play. Sadly, most characters that I think look really cool are way too high execution for me to do anything with.

So now, in 2002 I play K’/Whip/Orochi Yashiro. K’ because he looks cool, Whip because she’s fun to play and pretty broken, Orochi Yashiro because he is fun to play. As a secondary team I usually play Matue/Andy/Kusanagi, mostly because I think they have a unique and fun fighting style.

As for the order. It’s pretty basic. First character is a character than build meter well (K’), second character is a character that can use meter, but can also do without (Whip) and thirdly is a character that can really use 3 or 4 stocks, for me that’s Orochi Yashiro, because my execution is good enough to do his BC combo into SDM, which is very decent damage of a single easy hitconfirm. The strength of being able to do that combo when you have three stocks can make your opponent so scared and into a blocking state of mind that you get to grab them a lot for free.

Counterpicking also plays a role. If someone plays a fireball character, I’ll try to match up K’ with them. If someone has no good answer against Whip’s hyperhop C crossups, I’ll try to match her up with that character.

8. Which type of character do you prefer?
I like to play very safe characters that don’t require you to take a lot of risks, but as a tradeoff, don’t have that great mixups. Characters where you get your damage because you baited your opponent into doing something stupid, rather than hitting them with hard to block mixups.

9. From a purely gameplay perspective, who is you favorite character?
That would be Orochi Yashiro, Mature or Andy. It is difficult for me to pick.

10. How often do you practice or train in KOF alone?
I try to play KOF daily, when I do play I play for about an hour or two I think. Any less would probably not be worth it for me, as it becomes pretty hard to improve your game if there are large gaps in between the last time you played.

I have more or less hit the ceiling of my execution with my main characters, so I hardly sit in training mode to practice combos anymore. I do spend several hours a week looking for setups and practicing them.

My time in training mode is quite intensive, and I use FBA-RR with the macro.lua script to program the dummy to do reversals and other things, to learn to safejump and counter things.

11. How do you gain new techniques, strategies, setups and combos? Do you watch match videos?
I get my combos either from inquiring on #SNKPlaymore if I’m messing around with a new character, or by looking up on the SRK or DC wiki. Setups are things I either get from practice in training mode or from match vids.

Strategies are something I try to learn and establish while playing.

I do not watch nearly as many match videos as I should. I urge anyone to watch a lot fo them, yet I myself am often too lazy to do it. Haha.

12. Have you played KOFXIII yet? Did you like? Will you buy it?
I have, I liked it, though I feel it’s not as good as 2002UM. This isn’t strange, since 2002UM is the best fighting game ever made to me. XIII looks fantastic though.

I don’t have a console, so I won’t be buying it day one. But if this game actually sort of picks up and the online turns out to be okay, I’ll buy an xbox and I’ll actually play it. Sadly, I do not have much hope that online will be okay. But who knows!

13. Will you continue to play older KOF games while playing KOFXIII?
Yes, probably. 2002 is a lot of fun and GGPO is fantastic, and it’s just a lot of fun to play the people on #SNKPlaymore, they teach me lot. If I could get people to play 2002UM with me seriously, I wonder if I could motivate myself to play XIII at all.

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