We love Kof pt.3 – Pittsburgh
After a long hiatus we are back to showcase the love for kof around the country. This time we cover the Pittsburgh in the heart of America. Pittsburgh is not the rugged steel town that television still makes it out to be. It’s mostly a university town, and most of those students make up their central core of players. Due to this reason, all of the meet ups take place at the various schools in the city, including the Art Institute, Duquesne, and Carnegie Melon University.
The Pittsburgh Kof scene currently has about 12 players. Though the numbers do go up and down a bit since the player base is a mixture of Pittsburgh locals and students who are in Pittsburgh for school. For most of the Pittsburgh players, KofXIII is their first taste in the King of Fighters series. A few of the players have been playing since the game released, and the rest of the scene came in a later point in time. But thanks to consistent help from the more experienced players, the newcomers have all vastly improved in a short amount of time.
If you look at the play style of the Pittsburgh Kof scene, you’ll notice that it is a town of character specialist. They have players who are specialized in playing characters like Joe, Ralf (Hawaii Monkey); Duo Lon (Klimax), Kensou (Dingofist), Saiki (The Big Breakfast), Mature (Ral), Raiden (El Quatro Loko), and Athena (Azik21).
Since students make up a significant portion of the Pittsburgh scene, and they come and go depending on the academic year, the locals had to come up with some ways to keep attracting new players to keep the numbers up. Occasionally, you’ll see players hyping kof up by wearing a Luchadore mask before playing their matches. Sometimes they will have tournaments where top players can’t enter to encourage new players. In any case, the experienced players are always willing to sit and teach new players. They’ve even offered to buy copied of the game to those who are interested in learning but could not afford it at the time.
Notably, in an effort to gain more experience and exposure, the Pittsburgh players paid to fly KaneBlueRiver to Pittsburgh to train and traveled to tournaments with the Pittsburgh crew earlier this year. And their efforts were not wasted, El Quatro Loko, who housed KaneBlueRiver for three weeks leading up to ECTV, improved his gameplay so much that he was one game away from making top 8. After spending a month in Pittsburgh, KaneBlueRiver said he loved the city and would come back when he has a chance.
Here’s a peek of some of the notable players in Pittsburgh:
TJ Pittsburgh – Considered the best player in Pittsburgh. His main team is Kim/Flame/Hwa, but he also has a very strong Mr. Karate in his pocket. He plays a very aggressive but safe style, relying on a keen sense of safe jumps and mix ups. He placed top 8 at Season’s Beatings Summer Slam and top 16 at SB Ascension in 2012. He’s known for his Hwa due to his performance at NorCal Regionals 2013 where he placed 9th defeating Kanibalito and almost beating TC|Yoshi. At EVO this year he made it out of his pool out of losers.
El Quatro Loko – One of the most improved player in Pittsburgh. His main team consists of Clark/Raiden and a mixture of Takuma, Maxima, and Shen to fill the third slot. His play style is akin to the Japanese style of play, with a balance between offense and defense. He placed 9th at NEC13, almost sending RyRy to losers in the second round of the tournament in a match that went 2-1 and down to the anchors.
Diaphone – top 8 Winterbrawl 8. He is known as an execution monster who can pull off Beni’s lightning loops consistently.
Darklight – A very defensive player. His main team consists of King/Leona/Yuri. He’s recently been consistently in top 3 or 4 of our Ranbats, and out of nowhere got 13th at Final Round this year, he’s an up and comer and is looking forward to NEC 14.
Bonkler – Head of the Pittsburgh scene. He tends to place higher nationally than locally, possibly due to not having the stress of running brackets on his shoulders. He had a great EVO run this year where he got to winners finals of his pool, but then last to Dave O and Air. His main team consists of King/Athena/Yuri or Yuri/Athena/Vice. While one would think that he’d zone with a team like that, he plays a very aggressive Athena that relies on resets and command grab set ups.
Azik – Very technical player. Known to pull off stylish combos with Athena and Ash. Winner of the official kof combo video contest. Check out his youtube channel for more kof combo and tech tutorials.
Honorable mention – HawaiiMonkey, recently moved left Pittsburgh for Utah for a job. He was the closest among the Pittsburgh crew to dethroning TJ as the best in Pittsburgh.
To learn more about the Pittsburgh Kof scene, check out their stream on twitch or on youtube, also follow them on facebook. They stream every Thursday and have a monthly Ranbat on Saturdays at the end of the month.
While Pittsburgh might not have the same level of name recognition compared to some of the established scenes, please give these guys a shot. Their matches don’t disappoint and they have a lot of young up and coming talent. So if you’re visiting or are living near the Pittsburgh area, make sure to hit these guys up. Their monthly ranbats provide a good environment for KOF and they would love to play as many casuals as possible afterwards.
We love Kof is a series of articles dedicated to showcase the different communities around the world united by their love of KoF, including the ones that you might not have heard of before. If you want your community included in the future installments, feel free to contact me on twitter or facebook.
Special thanks to El Quatro Loko for contributions to this article.