Will Smith (yes, that’s his real name) is a Wichita native who lived in Japan before coming here. He loves RPG, RTS, and fighting games — he was even on the CAL-I Q3 team. He has an extensive knowledge of Street Fighter that rivals national level players, and recently competed at the largest tournament in the world: Evolution 2010.
He’s a family man through and through now, but luckily we found the time to sit down and chat. Here’s our interview.
How did you get started in videogames?
The very first game I ever played was Excite Bike on the NES. I snuck out of my parents house when I was in 1st grade to go play it at a friends house down the block.
What lead you into fighting games?
I have played tons and tons of fighting games over the years. The draw, in my opinion, is the fact that you and your opponent are on even ground, generally speaking. You have a chance to prove who is better simply by your knowledge of the game and the engine. Also, no other genre save maybe FPS can bring as much hype as often as FGs do.
How would you describe your approach (strategy, methodologies, etc) toward fighting games?
I think a lot of fundamentals transition from game to game. Spacing, zoning, defense, BnBs, etc – they all seem to have their place in nearly all FGs. I tend to spend a lot of time finding uses for all of my character(s)’s moves. I tend to take a semi rushdown approach with my characters, but I find that having a solid defense (in any game) is one of the most important things to possess.
What do you think of online play?
Online play is both great and horrible. It’s great to be able to get in a few games on your own schedule without having to move more than 20 ft. It’s also great to be able to get matchup practice against characters you may not encounter in your local scene.
With all of that said, online is NOT a true representation of any fighting game out there. A lot of people, in my opinion, underplay the importance of even slight delays. Until internet connections in the US are on par with the connections they experience in Japan, I cannot see online gaming (in this genre) being legit. I still play online from time to time. I still enjoy it as well. But I go into online play knowing that certain things that I am going to try to do just won’t work. I also believe that it is a bad idea to use online play to work on your execution.
Once you step into your first offline tournament, ranbat, etc you will see why. So in summary, I think online play is great for matchups, having fun, etc. Offline play is where you really get to prove your skill, however.
What do you think of the local competitive scene?
I’ve met several cool and good players here in Wichita. I lived in Illinois before Kansas and Japan before Illinois. It seems the FG scene in the areas that I’ve lived in have gotten smaller and smaller. Japan had a huge scene. Illinois had a decent scene, albeit nowhere near the size of Japan’s. And Wichita seems to have an even smaller scene than that of Illinois’.
I honestly think there are far more gamers in Wichita than we see attending tournies/events. I just hope the scene continues to grow; maybe the midwest will see a surge with the upcoming MvC3 and SFxT/TxSF games.
How was EVO? How did you do?
I ended up going 5-2 (6-2 if you include my bye) and 3 games from making it out of pools in SSF4. I disqualified myself from Tekken 6 as it was way too early in the morning the day after SSF4 and we had been up very late doing casuals in SSF4 at Caesars.
Do you have any exciting stories to share about the trip?
Well, I met Shaq in person. It was funny because I was talking with a buddy at the bottom of the escalators near the ballroom when he looked over my shoulder and his eyes got wide. I turn around and not even two feet from me was Shaq. All I could say was ‘sup Shaq’. He grinned and said “whats up” and left.
The whole weekend was hype though. Watching money matches, watching people talk sh*t and get beat, going into various rooms in Caesars for casuals. It was a great weekend and the Top 8 fights were the icing on the cake.
What do you think about Capcom’s newest game, Street Fighter x Tekken?
I CANNOT wait for this game to come out. I had talked about how a SF/T game would be cool to see a few years back. I’m glad the powers that be read my mind and are now making both SFxT and TxSF.
How do you feel about fighting games? Would you consider them a legitimate sport?
Legitimate sport? No. Legitimate e-sport? I think so. The one thing that holds FGs back from being more ‘in the spotlight’ as far as e-sports go is the whole latency/delay thing mentioned earlier. As far as offline, FGs are probably the best genre for 1v1 action. I expect that as internet speeds increase (specifically upload speeds) FGs will gain more popularity in the online e-sport scene.
Do you have any tips for new or beginning players starting out?
Although I have been playing games for most of my life, I just recently (2-3 years ago) started playing FGs competitively. The biggest thing for me was getting myself out of the mindset of ‘how can they even do that? It’s impossible’.
The second biggest thing was understanding that acquiring skill in FGs doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a couple of months. It takes a lot of consistent practice, exposure and a strong commitment to getting better. Above all though, getting yourself into the scene is the biggest thing you can do. Visit ranbats, casuals and the like. Hit up a local tourney or two. Hit up a major. Being around other people that love the game just as much and often times more than you really helps to make you feel comfortable with being an FG player.
Thanks go out to Will Smith for providing the interview.