The State of the Korean FGC: Shoryuken Interviews Core-A Gaming’s Gerald Lee

By on February 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm
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If you’ve paid attention to fighting game media on YouTube within the last couple of years, you’ve surely crossed paths with a Core-A Gaming video. From their information on the Korean FGC, to fighting game analysis and even some interviews of Korea’s top players, he has covered nearly everything fighting game-related. Owing to their unique takes on some of the major issues within the scene–interlaced with wild humor and meme usage–the channel has become popular in a very short time.

Recently, I was able to sit down to talk with Gerald “mintcheerios” Lee, the creator and voice behind the videos of Core-A Gaming. One of the most opinionated and intelligent minds in the FGC media, he had a lot to say on the direction of the Korean FGC, which was why he started creating content in the first place.

Corey “Missing Person” Lanier: Gerald, with all the quality content you’ve put out over the last year and a half, you have become quite the fixture in the FGC. What drove you to start putting out content as a relative unknown in the community at large?

Gerald “mintcheerios” Lee: One of the most important things was when Hyounoo “Drakefang” Sung opened a bar called ArcadeStream in Seoul, and it became a place where all the top players could come and play weekly and monthly events on stream. But it was also a dart bar, and a general bar where you could also get food service. When it opened, it was a chance to cover the Korean FGC in a way that it hadn’t been covered before. You’d have all these top players coming in, with all these events happening in Seoul, with no one really covering it. I figured this would be a good opportunity for me to do so, and that’s how the Core-A Gaming channel got started. [Note: as of November 2016, ArcadeStream is now known as DartStream and is solely a dart bar.]

Later, I started doing analysis videos after having a lot of conversations with fighting game players. I thought a lot of these conversations were interesting, and thought that it would be a good idea to put that into a video essay format to see what happened. It turned out pretty good.

Missing Person: With the rise and fall of ArcadeStream, how do you feel this will affect the Korean FGC moving forward?

mintcheerios: Like I said, the main reason I started my channel was to support my local arcade, which was ArcadeStream, and if you look at all my videos prior to its closure, there was always a link to directions on getting to ArcadeStream at the end of my videos. Of course it’s important to have a place where you can go to play these games, and Street Fighter is not in the actual arcades over here. They had Street Fighter IV in some arcades at a certain point, but even those cabinets were getting removed. There are still a couple of places around for the scene to congregate, but they aren’t dedicated to Street Fighter, weeklies, and streaming.

I’m sure that everyone knows in recent years that it’s difficult to run an arcade. Nonetheless, it’s still important to have a scene, and place where people can meet and play these games. It’s kind of a loss to lose ArcadeStream, but I feel like it’s not over yet. I have some plans in regards to that, but some things need to happen first for them to come to fruition. I am trying to reunite the players over here, as all the players really don’t have too many places to go.

Missing Person: Do you feel like there are difficulties within the Street Fighter community in Korea beyond just having a place to play?

mintcheerios: The good thing is the internet here is really good. I recently tweeted what my internet connection looked like, and for the cost of $30 I was getting 100mbps both ways and a ping of 1ms. A lot of the up and coming Street Fighter players in Korea, such as NL and XYZZY, are really far away from Seoul, so they rely solely on online play to practice and improve. I feel like Capcom has moved in the right direction by getting people to play online. Of course, there are still some kinks to work out, but I’m sure they’ll come through.

Missing Person: Do you feel like NL and XYZZY’s travels are helping them, and overall do you think this will help improve the Korean scene?

mintcheerios: I feel like having these players–especially NL, who has been on TV and is a well-known King of Fighters player in Korea–definitely does bring more awareness to the game. It’s amazing because my cousin–who is a Tekken player–he heard about NL playing Street Fighter and decided to give the game a try. When you see these players trying out different games, it inspires you to try as well.

I’m not going to lie, Poongko’s ridiculous Akuma in Tekken 7 inspired me to get into Tekken somewhat, so I’m going to give it more of a shot when it releases on console.

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Gerald “mintcheerios” Lee (left) with HyperX|Daigo Umehara at Evo 2013. Photo courtesy Gerald Lee.

Missing Person: With Tekken and KOF being the biggest games in Korea, and Street Fighter just emerging in the market, are players from other games branching out more with the rise of Street Fighter and the Capcom Pro Tour?

mintcheerios: I think it has waned a bit. Street Fighter had a big push when it first came out. There was a big advertisement for it in Yongsan–the biggest electronics center in Korea–so it had a lot of momentum from that. I think it’s starting to normalize a bit. But there are still a lot of new faces I have never seen before. I think Street Fighter is getting bigger than it’s been since the Street Fighter II days in Korea. It is growing; it’s just not huge. But it is becoming increasingly known. So even it doesn’t hit MOBA levels in the esports realm, it is still steady and consistent.

Missing Person: Talking about new faces in Korea, are there any you could name that people should be looking into?

mintcheerios: A lot of these guys are online warriors, but they do show up to the local tournaments. They do get good online, because with the internet here you can play all the best players in Korea and Japan online with very little lag.

But as far as names, I would look out for Verloren, as he won the Amateur Cup at Southeast Asia Major, and also made it out to Canada Cup as well. His Cammy is ridiculous. There’s also a solid Dhalsim player named Save over here.

I think these are players that are doing well, but all their success is going to depend on how seriously they take the game. I think one of the things about them is going to be support. Even people like Infiltration and Poongko, they were supported by r/Kappa back in the Street Fighter IV days. Even recently, XYZZY has also been sponsored by them. But it just goes to show how difficult it is for these players to get noticed enough to get sponsored for traveling and playing. And because of that, it’s going to be difficult for them to get to Capcom Cup despite their high-level play.

Missing Person: So in Korea, there is an influx of expats living in Korea and playing Street Fighter. Do you think this has helped the Korean FGC out?

Mintcheerios: Not necessarily. The expats and the Koreans don’t really mingle, partly due to the language barrier. Of course when we meet in tournaments, it usually goes well.

But the expats do definitely make their presence felt within the scene here. If you go to any tournament in Korea, you can expect the expats there. But what I like about Street Fighter is how international the game is.

Corey "Missing Person" Lanier is a full-time writer, and one half of the "So Smart" team that did commentary for Street Fighter V Crash. A former English teacher, he has spent 5 years living between China and South Korea before moving to Canada. When he's not busy writing, he enjoys streaming, playing mafia and elevating his Super Turbo game. He also believes Sailor Moon S is the best fighting game on the planet, and if you don't believe him, see him in Sailor Moon!