DreamCancel Interviews EVO2013 Champ AS | Reynald!

We recently had the chance to catch up with the KoFXIII world champion, ArcadeShock Reynald to ask him some questions. Many of these questions were contributed by community members here on the DC forums, so thanks to everyone for your participation! Below, Reynald discusses his thoughts on being the EVO champ, his opponents during top 8, and what the future holds. Hit the jump to check it out!

Photo by Karaface

DreamCancel:First off, congratulations on becoming the first ever KoFXIII World Champion from the United States! Now that the dust has settled, how does it feel to have won it all?

Reynald: Honestly, it has been over a month since EVO and I still can’t believe it.

DreamCancel: I know we’ve covered this in previous interviews, but for your new fans, please give us a brief history of how you started in competitive fighting games and your gaming background in general.

Reynald: I started playing fighting games when I was 6 or 7 and the first fighting game I touched was Street Fighter 2 on the SNES. Soon after, my brothers found an arcade near our house that we could walk to and that is where I was introduced to King of Fighters 96. As for playing competitively, it was not until 5 or 6 years ago when I started taking fighting games more seriously. I started going back to the same arcade I had gone to when I was a kid and picked up 3rd Strike. Watching a video with Daigo vs. Jwong had inspired me to pick up the game.

DreamCancel: After getting Top 8 at EVO 2012, we saw you travel frequently around the USA this EVO season, taking several notable majors, such as UFGT and CEO. What was your mentality going into EVO2013? Specifically, how did you prepare for this year’s competition? Were there any players and/or character matchups you trained for in particular?

Reynald: I wanted the win so I trained for it. I knew the goal wasn’t far from reach, but also that it wouldn’t be easy. I trained for most of the match ups and play styles through particular training sets (which I can’t go into detail about). There were matches I obviously couldn’t train for, but having a base knowledge of the characters and match ups helped in those situations. All of the training helped me succeed in winning EVO.

DreamCancel: At several majors this year leading up to EVO, we saw you and AGE |Romance go back and forth in tense and exciting grand finals sets. The two of you have proven time and time again that you are the currently the strongest players in the US KoF scene. You met up once again in the first round of Top 8 losers this year at EVO, where you emerged victorious. Please share your thoughts on Romance as a player, and your EVO Top 8 match in particular.

Reynald: Romance is a very strong player. I was happy that he made top 8, but was upset the same time because I knew that one of us had to take the loss. I wish I could have met him grand finals but there are other players in a tournament that can stop that from happening. No matter, I give him my props and hope he trains just as hard for next EVO.

DreamCancel: Unfortunately, many of our friends and a few notable players were not able to join us at EVO this year. How do you feel the results would have been if players like BALA, Koopa, Kula, Lacid, Gutts, and Kaoru were at EVO 2013?

Reynald: It’s EVO, anything could have happened.

DreamCancel: Before the actual tournament, you played several money matches against many of the international players. How did these money matches go? Do you feel that you gained valuable information from these matches which helped your performance in the tournament?

Reynald: I had lost most of the money matches before the tournament day. The couple matches I did win, I used the information I gathered along with my main team formation. The matches definitely helped with my performance in EVO.

DreamCancel:Please walk us through your matches in pools and Top 64. Which opponents were the most challenging/surprising? Did you find yourself having any close calls before your loss to Verna in Top 16?

Reynald: It wasn’t much of a close call, but I would say that I was pleasantly surprised when playing against Luffy from France. Luffy has plenty of potential in KOF and could easily be a top player if he really practiced the game (maybe used better characters as well, haha).

DreamCancel:Your performance in Top 8 this year at EVO can be described as nearly miraculous. Coming from the loser’s bracket, you left many players and spectators in awe and dumbfounded by your confident (some would say extremely risky) and dynamic play style, going for bold reads in extremely tense situations. What’s your mentality and thought process in terms of how you approach the game?

Reynald: Every match of KOF13 that I have played lead me to winning EVO. I have always played with a risky style and that was the only way I knew how to play the game. I didn’t lose heart when I played casuals because I knew if I had correctly analyzed my matches, then I could set that as my base for next time. I learned from losses, whether it came from casuals or tournaments, and built my game around it.

DreamCancel: CafeId| MadKOF eliminated you in Top 8 of EVO last year. What was your mentality when playing him in Top 8 this year? What was your rationale for picking Takuma against him?

Reynald: I knew it was a close match last year and I had immediately analyzed my loss. I realized both MadKof and BALA had the same weaknesses so I aimed for just that during my runback against MadKof. I only had used Takuma 2 nights before top 8 at the CafeId room during casuals. The only CafeId player from Korea that I played that night was Millionz and it quickly showed how much trouble he was having against Takuma. I knew it was a risk not having the play experience with Takuma, but I was confident in replicating the mind set of the Takuma players I have played before into my own style. Along with that, I play with a lot of calculated risks and I am usually willing to act against the odds when it comes to video games.

DreamCancel:What were the highlights of Top 8 for you? Who, in your opinion, was your strongest opponent?

Reynald: The top highlight in top 8 for me was my raw NeoMax with Benimaru against Verna and on that same note, the strongest opponent I faced was Verna again.

DreamCancel: In the much talked about grand finals, Woo pulled ahead, nearly taking the whole tournament in 1 set before you made your epic comeback. What was going through your head when Woo took the 2-0 lead in the first set? What was the rationale for playing Kim the first two games?

Reynald: It was rational thinking that made me match Kim vs. Ryo. Kim is a very good match vs. Ryo but I was not comfortable using Kim the first two matches and that affected the rest of my game play. My gut told me to switch back to NEST Kyo and I did just that. NEST Kyo was the star player on my team and I initially benched him because of the risky match up against Ryo; if I moved the wrong way during the match then it would have been done for me.

DreamCancel:Many of us watching live and on stream saw that Woo became visibly flustered as the match went on, to the point of tossing his arcade stick to the ground after you finally took the second set. Do you think tournament nerves dramatically affected his performance? If so, how do you think grand finals would have looked if he had been more composed/in a calmer environment? On that note, do you personally experience tournament nervousness, and if so how do you deal with it?

Reynald: This is a tournament. Watch any sporting event and tell me none of the competitors get nervous. Tournaments are what competitors practice for. If the “tournament player” can’t perform his best on the day of, then there is no one to blame but himself. Why is it that MadKOF did so well in 2012 EVO with the crowd against him? He’s a skillful player and he knows how to buckle down and do what needs to be done. Dealing with all mental aspects of a tournament takes just as much skill as doing a combo during a match, it takes a certain concentration and perseverance to do those things in that kind of environment. Just like every where else, the Koreans only had each other to play against and couldn’t travel for competition until EVO, but 3 of them made top 8 that EVO. The Koreans didn’t win because they are from some unknown place in the world (usually for Americans that’s Asia) that somehow automatically knows how to play KOF. No that’s far from it. They practiced their asses off that year prior to the tournament and all of my props go to them for winning. It’s easy to say that so and so could have won EVO if they had the proper lighting in their eyes or had the right meal in the morning. It’s easy to say that so and so could have won EVO if only he remembered to poop 10 minutes before his match. Well maybe next time that player should have done those things and maybe, just maybe he could have won EVO.

DreamCancel:How do you see the meta-game evolving in the near future?

Reynald: The meta-games evolution depends on the players themselves.

DreamCancel:After winning EVO, what are your plans for the future, both personally and with fighting games?  Can we expect to see you at upcoming majors?

Reynald: Fighting games will always be a part of me. I will go to as many majors as I possibly can until the next EVO, but I have other people in my life that want me around so I can’t have tournaments and practicing take too much of my time (at least until the next EVO inches around).

DreamCancel:Thanks so much once again! Any last words or shoutouts? Where can your fans follow you?

Reynald: Shout outs to ArcadeShock for letting me be a part of them. They have helped me to get to where I am now in more ways than one and for that I thank them. I would also like to thank the people who not only watch, but play KOF 13 as well. Let’s keep growing as a KOF community. Follow me on Twitter @ReynaldJT.

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