Recently, I got a chance to ask a ton of questions to the entire Cafe:Id crew regarding just about everything! Many Dream Cancel community members also submitted their own questions, which made it into this interview! Check out our full thing below! Shoutouts to Koogle for translating and Fixel for the photo!
Thank you so much, Cafe:Id KoFXIII players and Koogle for the opportunity to let us conduct this interview! Congratulations on your extremely impressive performances at EVO 2012! Out of the Top 8 finalists in KoFXIII, 4 players were from Cafe ID! Your team made a very huge impression on the western KoFXIII community, as well as the Fighting Game Community in general! Please introduce yourselves!
Mad KOF : I’m an enthusiastic KoF player, who has been poor in real life since KoF98.
Kensouzzang : Hello. My name is Dae-Hwan Kim, and I worked as a camera director. I’m the founder of Cafe:Id, and planned our EVO2012 participation. I play the KoF series and SSF4. I have played KoF since KoF94, and started doing team battles since KoF97. I played the series up to KoF2000, and then had to do mandatory Korean military service. After that, I stopped playing fighting games until SF4 was released. I decided to support Cafe:Id EVO2012 participants 3 months before the tournament. I, myself, have loved and played fighting games for a long time. I really wanted to show how good Korean players were at EVO2012. Some participants also spent their own money to participate at EVO2012. We truly appreciate Hooman Ghahremani (aka Hoodman) and Sung-Jun Yoon (aka Koogle Translator) for helping us so much at EVO.
Lacid: Hi, my name is Myung-Gu Kang. I’ve been known as kmg5662 in KoF2002 GGPO community. After my college final exams were done this year, I read a post saying that Cafe:Id was going to participate at EVO2012. So, I contacted them and decided to go too. I usually play games casually, so I tend to play random characters a lot. However, I chose my main characters (normal Kyo, Ash, Kim) and decided to train seriously for EVO2012. At first, people made fun of me for losing a lot, but I got better really fast during training.
Koogle Translator : Hello, my name is Sung-Jun Yoon and I live in Toronto, Canada. I’m trying to graduate from university, and trying to get a full time job. I’ve loved KoF series since 97, and I’ve casually played KoF series for about 7~8 years.
GUTS : Hello, I have played the KoF series for about 15 years. I’m really happy to be 4th place in KoFXIII at EVO2012. I don’t remember how I played during some of my matches because I was so nervous. I’ve never been to a big tournament like EVO2012. I’m glad that hard training at Cafe:Id paid off. EVO2012 was an unforgettable experience in my life. I really hope to participate in next year’s EVO if possible.
Id’s 1st Man : Hello. I started playing fighting games with Guilty Gear X, and then moved on to KoF11 and KoFXIII. I’m glad many of my teammates made it into top 8.
During Top 8, many Spanish speaking fans were chanting for BALA and against Cafe ID players. Many of them have come forward to apologize because they were worried that you may have been offended. According to them, this kind of chanting is common at Mexican sports events and is not meant to offend anyone personally. How do Cafe ID players feel about the Spanish chanting?
Cafe:Id – We were okay with it. We understand the cultural difference and expected chanting from crowds. We envied Mexico and their supportive fans.
The next question is for the owner of Cafe:Id Kensouzzang. Please tell us all about the history of Cafe ID. What exactly is Cafe:Id? How did it start? How many players go to Cafe:Id regularly? How long have Cafe ID KoFXIII players known each other?
Kensouzzang : Cafe:Id opened March 1st 2011. The reason I named it Cafe:Id is to remember a certain female that I still love. The name is also motivation for me to continue running Cafe:Id no matter what kind of problems I face. If I give up on Cafe:Id, that means I give up on her too. The hidden creator of Cafe:Id is her. Please, return to me!
The concept of Cafe:Id is that it’s a place for fighting game lovers, a place where everyone treats each other like family members, and a place run by players. Although I was in Las Vegas for EVO2012, Cafe:Id was still run by players while I was away without any problems. Cafe:Id is not a place for business. Young teenagers can play games for free, and it’s only a minimal venue fee for adults (about 10 USD for a day). I treat visitors as fellow fighting game players. After EVO2012, nothing really changed in here so far. Our favorite games at Cafe:Id are VF5FS and KoFXIII. The EVO2012 participants and a few others are pretty much everyone who plays KoFXIII at Cafe:Id. They come to Cafe:Id often. Players are around their late 20s or early 30s. Cafe:Id is really busy during the weekend.
Please tell us about the Korean fighting game community. What are the most popular games? How many competitive KoF players are there? Is the community growing? What are your predictions for the Korean KoFXIII community after this EVO?
Koogle Translator: The KoF scene in Korea was very big back in KoF98 – KoF XI. Right now, most KoF players play KoF98 or KoF2002 on GGPO, and some people still play KoF XI at arcades. However, very few people play KoF XIII at Cafe:Id. Horrible online play just doesn’t attract new players at all.
Mad KOF : The KoF series has been popular in Korea. If a new KoF was a good one, people played with laughter and joy. People still played a bad one, but complained a lot while playing it lol. It seems that many people still play KoF98 and KoF2002 on GGPO. Unfortunately, Cafe:Id is not the center of the KoF scene. It’s hard for people who live in different cities to visit Cafe:Id often. (Cafe:Id is located in Seoul). It’s a place where KoF XIII, VF, and SSF4 players occasionally gather and play. We have about 10 people who play KoF13 at offline sessions, and about 10 people who play online. They’re all good.
Kensouzzang : Those who went to arcades when they were young know the KoF series. Everyone has a different favorite KoF. I believe that Cafe:Id is center of the KoFXIII scene.
How did Cafe ID KoFXIII players train for EVO2012? Were there any players or characters you studied specifically?
Mad KOF : Before preparing for EVO2012, I went to Cafe:Id once every two weeks. Others also went to Cafe:Id once every week or once every two weeks. I don’t play KoFXIII online anymore because it’s just bad, except when I play with Verna. After we decided to go to EVO2012, Guts and I trained at Cafe:Id almost every day for about one month. Others joined us two weeks before departing to EVO2012. We reviewed videos of last 2 major tournaments in US few times before EVO2012. I checked all famous players’ styles few times. I wanted to play more before EVO2012 so personally I didn’t spend too much time watching videos.
Kensouzzang : While we were preparing for EVO2012, we met up almost everyday and trained. We analyzed all the famous players’ match videos during the 1 month training camp. Since it was impossible to play with the famous players before EVO, we just kept studying their main characters. To overcome jet lag, we arrived in Vegas 4 days before EVO, and we brought the customized stick tables because most of Korean players are not familiar with the “stick on lap” play style. I provided food, tools, and other stuff to help the participants to focus on training.
Kensouzzang, GUTS, Id’s 1st Man : We paid special attention to Bala, Kaoru, Reynald, Romance, Mr. KOF, Xian, Xiao Hai, and etc. We paid attention to unfamiliar characters in Korea such as Billy and Mr. Karate.
Lacid : I paid attention to Bala’s style. We considered Billy a weak character before the team match. I changed my mind after playing against Bala in the team match.
Next, we have several questions for the EVO212 Champion, Mad KOF. Please tell us about your KoF history. Why do you call yourself Mad KoF? Who were your toughest opponents during EVO2012? Do you enjoy playing KoFXIII online? How did you decide to play Duo Lon and Chin? Both of these characters are not considered high tier in the USA.
Mad KOF: My name is Kwang-No Lee. I started playing KoF98 with friends at arcades just like everyone else. KoF98 was a really fun game to play. I had a team named “RealMad” back in KoF99. Friends called me by my Korean name instead of “madkof” until KoF2001. Japanese players added “(akuma)” to “madkof” after a KoF2001 team match between Japan and Korea. I liked it and kept using it. I play KoF for 3~4 hours once every 2~3 days. I have constantly played the KoF series on the Korean stream website “Afreeca TV” since 2007. Before KoFXIII was released, I had played KoF98, 2000, and 02 on my stream. I spend the rest of my time on my job and real life stuff.
My toughest opponents were Luis Cha, Reynald, and BALA. Luis Cha was much stronger than any other opponent I played on the first day of the tournament. I underestimated him a little bit in the first game because I had an easier time winning until I played against him. Reynald was my first opponent in the Top 8. I was really nervous and had a tough time playing against Reynald. As expected from the best in North America, BALA was very skilled and was a tough opponent. I thought that Kaoru could make it into top 8 without many problems, and he could have definitely did well in Top 8 if he made it there. I believe that you need both skill and luck to do really well in Top 8. If Kaoru made it into Top 8 and had luck, it was possible that Kaoru could win the tournament. (Koogle Translator : Karou won a money match against Mad KOF 3-1) After the tournament was finished, I was exhausted and wanted to enjoy playing with Kaoru. If we met in tournament, we could have shown much better play to the crowd.
KoFXIII online is seriously bad. You cannot react to any kind of obvious attacks. You have to anticipate what’s coming next instead of reacting to it. I kept playing KoF13 online just because KoF13 was a great game. If the game was less interesting than what it was, I would consider stopping. It took me about a month to get used to offline play. Usually, a week would be enough time to get used to offline play, but you must not play online at all during that time. KoFXIII online doesn’t help you to improve your skill at all. You will keep getting hit by random moves that wouldn’t work offline. Online play is just for fun. If KoFXIII online was as good as SSF4 online, then it would be very helpful. Unfortunately, KoFXIII online is not good at all.
Duo Lon and Chin are not considered top tier characters in Korea either. I tried all characters and chose the characters that I had the most fun with. Kim is both strong and fun to play. I’ve just played King since older games in the series. I played with Duo Lon and Kim so many times that I just wanted to try Chin in the grand finals. I could have played with Shen or King, but so many others played with Shen and King it seemed that many people already knew the match ups.
Do Cafe ID players have plans on traveling to more international tournaments?
Mad KOF : If KoFXIII makes a return, I will try to participate in EVO2013 as well. EVO2012 was an exciting and wonderful tournament. I never knew that so many people loved the KoF series. There are not many people who like KoFXIII because of its bad online play in Korea. If KoFXIII had a good online play just like GGPO, many more people would play the game and the team size would be bigger.
Our biggest concern is money, we just spent too much money to come to EVO2012. If we don’t get fully sponsored by someone / company, it would be difficult for us to go to next year’s EVO. This was our first and last time under the precondition that we don’t get a sponsor in the future. It’s hard for me to keep playing a video game as well as work full time. Therefore, it would be very difficult to participate in next year’s EVO, but if I would be able to, I would like to defend my title as Champion. We welcome anyone who wants to play with us in Korea.
Kensouzzang : The fighting game community in Korea is small compared to other games. If we get an opportunity, we would love to go to next year’s EVO.
How balanced do you all think KoFXIII is? In your opinions, who are the 5 strongest and 5 weakest characters in the game? Please elaborate on why you think these characters are strong/weak.
Mad KOF : Kim, Shen, and Mr. Karate are considered high-tier characters here. Cafe:Id members just don’t play Mr.Karate because they think he’s not fun to play. Cafe:Id members usually choose fun characters to play, not strong characters. Guts and Verna also chose EX-Iori because he’s fun to play. In this case, EX-Iori is strong as well. KoFXIII is really well balanced. If you put your time and effort into any characters, they can be strong, except Robert and Athena (they just suck…).
My top 5: Mr. Karate, Benimaru , Kim, King, EX-Iori. They’re strong in any order with / without meters. Therefore, I feel that they don’t have counters.
Lacid : Top 5 – Yuri, Kim, Mr.Karate, King, and Shen. They all have strong normal moves and special moves.
Verna: Top 5 – Kim, Chin, Shen, King, ex-Iori. These characters have strong HD combos, mix-ups, and normal moves.
GUTS: Top 5 – Vice, EX-Iori, Kim, Mr.Karate, Saiki. They have strong combos and normal moves.
Pikachu: Top 5 – Chin, Duo Lon, Yuri, Kim, King. They have strong mix-up games.
Kensouzzang: Top 5 – Saiki, Billy, Shen, Vice, Mr.Karate. Strong normal moves, easy to hit confirm, and good combos.
Id’s 1st Man: Top 5 – Mature , Billy, Shen, Yuri, EX-Iori. Strong normals.
Cafe:Id: We feel that the bottom 5 are Athena, Robert, Elisabeth, Ash, and Mai. They need meters to be strong, and they may have some counters.
During top 8, we saw all the Cafe ID players using a table with a barrier separating them from their opponent. Please explain why you used this table and barrier during the finals.
Mad KOF : I never thought players would compete next to each other and put sticks on their laps at EVO. I watched people competing away from each other at the Shadowloo Showdown tournament stream, and expected the same fashion at EVO2012. However, I heard that it wouldn’t be the same as the Shadowloo tournament at EVO2012, so we made the stick tables a week before departing to EVO2012.
After the Mexico vs Korea team matches, we realized that they were really good. In addition, we realized that they baited us with empty button presses, and anticipated our moves by listening to our button presses or watching our hand motions. BALA was especially good at this mind game. So we started making the t-shirt view blocker after the team match.
I believe that people invented these console tactics because of the unique tournament environment in the US. However, I will keep my own style which is focusing on a gameplay itself without using console tactics.
Kensouzzang : Many Korean players have played fighting games on arcade cabinets with head-to-head setups. I believed that the participants would use their skills fully only if they played on setups which are similar to Korean arcades. Therefore, I designed the customized stick tables. After revising the design a few times and receiving feedback from players, we finalized the stick table to be portable and easy to disassemble / reassemble.
The Korea vs Mexico team match result was very unexpected to me. The Korean team started with good momentum, but started to lose a lot to BALA. It was the Korean team’s first time playing against console tactics. Although I considered myself a pretty good SSF4 player and had to play pools next morning, I spent much time thinking about anti-console tactics.
Fortunately, EVO provided everyone with really good headsets. To block the opponent’s view from Korean players’ hand motions, I simply added two frames on top of a table and hung a t-shirt. Once console tactics were no longer a problem, Mad KOF did much better than he did at the team match and won the tournament. Even other team’s players, such as Poongko and Romance, wanted to use the upgraded table. Mad KOF said the upgrade was the best move ever.
There was a rumor floating around on twitter that Cafe:Id KoFXIII players are considered mid-level in Korea. Is this true?
Mad KOF : The rumor is ridiculous. If some people in Korea consider Cafe:Id members mid-level, we want to play the “top-level” and see how good they are.
Do you have any parting words or advice for the international KoF community?
Cafe:Id :We only have 10-15 KoFXIII players at Cafe:Id. We hope we can get more opportunities to play with international KoFXIII players. If possible, we hope more people visit us in Korea and play fighting games with us.
Thank you all so much once again for this interview! Cafe ID fighting!!!!
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