Guard Cancel: Desmond Delaghetto

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 admin@dreamcancel.com 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 KOF ever since the late 90s, but I’ve just taken the games seriously just a year or two ago. The very first KOF game I have ever played was probably KOF98 in the arcades. My cousin told me about it so we went to the bowling alley arcade to check it out, and I loved it. I thought it was pretty great. It was around the time the Capcom was putting out MvC1 and Alpha 3 and stuff but I really liked the unique approach of KOF98. Around that same time, a new video game store opened on the main street here in Saint Paul. I was on my way to actually play KOF98 at that bowling alley so I decided to stop in and check it out. They had some rare games, some imports and some arcade cabs. They had 2 neo-geo MVS machines, and one of them had KOF96. I used to go there every day and play alone against the CPU to try to get the top score. But my top favorite KOF currently is KOF2002UM next to KOFXIII.

2. Why KOF over all of the other fighters?
KOF was just really unique and special than a lot of the fighters that was out. It was very stylish but not too out of the pocket like some games. I really liked the stages and music, and the character designs I thought were very cool too. Plus the fact that you can play 3 characters that were all different from one another was great too. The game featured a lot of cool defensive and offensive options that were lacking in some other fighters too. I also love 2D art and sprites as a whole, it gives it a real classic touch.

3. Are you a tournament player? If so, list your tournament rankings.
My very first KOF98 tournament I entered in was in 2009 I think, and I placed 2nd. We were playing on the Neo-Geo too. I placed 3rd in KOF2002UM at MWC2010 in Chicago, 2nd at KOF98UM at GNGC 1 here in MN in August, placed 4th place
at GNGC 2 in December 2010, got tied for 5th place at Frosty Faustings III in January 2011, and since then I haven’t played in a tournament since. Hopefully next year there will be some tournaments ran and I will see how I do.

4. Do you have a local scene or do you rely on online play?
MN used to have a collective local scene for KOF last year but things fell apart after while unfortunately and a few of us went our separate ways. Minnesota has a very big immigrant population (one of the biggest in the USA) so 6 times outta 10, you can run into someone that has played KOF before in their home country. I do play online quite a bit on GGPO, mostly to step up my yomi and to test out different tactics against different players, and I think it has helped me quite a bit in leveling up my game.

5. Do you prefer pad or stick? Why is that your preference?
I used to be a pad warrior in the 90s but I have graduated to arcade stick in the early to mid 2000s. I personally find the arcade stick more flexible for myself to do certain motions consistently and also for you can use every finger on your right hand to press every button available. I used to preach that whole “joystick is better” stuff but I stopped once I found out I was getting my ass kicked by pad players and also very good players use pad too. So it’s not what you use, it is how you use it.

6. What advice do you have for new players?
I would say to practice as much as you can in training mode and try to play against others in the game as often as you can. Either online or in person. I encourage those to play online on GGPO because the competition is very good and the connections are solid. Also, I would try to ask as many questions to expert players as you can regarding the game system and your own gameplay because a full understanding of both the game and yourself will help you out tremendously. I’m learning new things almost everyday, so I’m constantly being educated.

Also, keep things simple, easy and practical. Get those bread and butter combos down, and find out which of your characters normals are good for whatever situation.
For example Chris far B is good for stopping hyper hops, but it isn’t good for stopping a superjumped air to ground attack. Also, get to know your characters of what they can do and cannot do, as well as their attack ranges. Another important thing to find out are characters normal, special and desperation move properties, for example if they have bad or good recovery on block, or if it’s an overhead, a 1 frame throw, if it has invincibility or not etc. Not just knowing for the characters you play with but for characters you don’t play with as well, but that information may come handy when you are facing someone that uses them. It is also good to find out good, easy (or moderately difficult) combos that give you good damage as well. One mistake I made when I first started playing KOF02UM is learning characters BC max mode combos without even knowing any bread and butters.

One last piece of advice for new players is to not get too frustrated losing all the time. You may be getting better without really knowing it.

7. How do you choose a character and team? How do you choose the order?
I try to look out more of characters that have decent to a great amount of defensive and offensive options. Some characters I like tend to have more than the other, either they are mostly defensive, or mostly offensive. One thing I am learning is that certain characters can be played in anyway you want, but many of them are more stronger in certain areas and have more options in certain positions. So a full understanding of your characters strengths and weakness is essential.

I usually choose the order depending on how well a character can build meter, and how well a character can benefit from the full meter. Also I choose order depending on how well I know the character and how I can set the pace of the match with them. Another decision I place on order is the person and characters I am fighting. I would have to know if a certain player has trouble against a character I have chosen, or vice versa. Plus I would need to understand the certain options I have in the matchup against them, as well as theirs against me. If I feel that my character has a certain advantages against one that they have, I would try my best to pair them up with each other if we do fight. There are times were I would spend quite a while at the order select time making sure I was placing my characters in favorable positions depending on who I face. If I make a mistake by organizing my team wrong it can either help me, or harm me.

8. Which type of character do you prefer?
I try my best to pick characters that are really flexible when it comes to offensive and defense. So usually its more short to mid range characters that I am comfortable with whom has a few long range options as well. They should also have some kind of command throw as well, to increase their offensive option and to provide a good mixup game too. I have always had trouble playing with full grapple characters consistently so that is a type I’m trying to work on currently.

9. From a purely gameplay perspective, who is you favorite character?
I really admire players whom can master May Lee. I don’t main her or play with her very much at all anymore. After a few months last year of learning her, I even tried to pick her a few times in a tournament in 2002UM but I failed hard. She’s just complex, has two modes, you need to hit ABC together to switch in between them, and you can cancel a majority of her normal and moves with that stance change too. While in her Hero mode she can’t block or roll (she can roll in OG 2k2), and her defensive options are poor because she doesn’t have a good reversal move, you either have to just block or use her qcb + K move sometimes. You also have to put in a lot of work in her to pull off some fair damage, and she requires a lot of execution. So, from a gameplay perspective, I think she is a difficult character to master, and anyone who mains her and does well with her, gets my respect.

10. How often do you practice or train in KOF alone?
It really depends on how busy I am with work and school. When I was out of school I used to play and practice everyday for like 3 to 5 hours. Now that I am back in school, I have to regulate my time a bit more. I do try to play everyday because the way I learn things is that I must be exposed to them constantly to build up my muscle memory, experiment, and work on things I may have trouble with. But if I feel that I am not in the mood to practice, then I would probably skip a day or two.

11. How do you gain new techniques, strategies, setups and combos? Do you watch match videos?
I learn new things by either experimenting in training mode or looking for new things I haven’t thought of in match videos or from playing others. I always encourage people to share with me how they feel about my gameplay style and I always listen to their feedback. But as a whole, I always like to talk about how we played after the matches and to point out specific parts that we can remember that stood out or which made the match go into whomever’s favor.

When it comes to match videos I feel that the best kind to learn from are ones of your own. They can really help you figure out why you lost and what specific things you need to work on.

12. Have you played KOFXIII yet? Did you like? Will you buy it?
Yes I have played it and I think it’s great. I will buy it when it drops, and I will encourage others to try it out as well!

13. Will you continue to play older KOF games while playing KOFXIII?
Yes, I will probably continue to play 98UM and 2002UM because those are great games that have their own levels of depth to them, and each of them have many different and special characteristics which makes them slightly different than each other.

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