If you were asked about Latin American fighting game players, the first name to pop to your mind would likely be Nicolas “Kane Blueriver” Gonzalez. Kane made his mark as a literal world warrior, traveling everywhere and honing his craft in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The results–including an Evo 2015 championship–speak for themselves. Not only does he have a strong reputation in UMvC3, but he is also skilled in The King of Fighters XIV, earning an invitation to the KOF World Cup.
While at Frosty Faustings IX, I sat down with him to talk about his play, as well as a Latin American scene that is largely unknown.
Corey “Missing Person” Lanier: Kane, you had a very difficult trip into Chicago to get to Frosty Faustings. What exactly happened?
Nicolas “Kane Blueriver” Gonzalez: I had my fair share of problems. One of my suitcases broke. My stick has had issues over the weekend. This stuff happens to me so often that I’ve gotten used to it. You just have to find ways to solve the problems, and keep going.
Missing Person: How are the tournaments going for you?
Kane Blueriver: I’m already out of Marvel and Street Fighter V. I lost a match to Unkn0wn in Marvel, who has been playing super solid lately. I’m currently waiting for The King of Fighters XIV Top 8 in winners bracket.
Missing Person: Have you been focusing more on KOF more than Marvel lately?
Kane Blueriver: Kind of, but it’s more that I have to take advantage of the opportunities that I have to train. There isn’t much of a Marvel community in Chile for a while, and they aren’t as dedicated. Chile has a much stronger KOF community with a strong dedicated player base. Thus, it’s always a staple game of the region, and there’s always people to practice with. With all the opportunities I have to train in the game, I feel like I have to train harder in the game now.
Missing Person: How do you feel Chile will be represented within the King of Fighters circuit?
Kane Blueriver: Well, I’m already qualified for the KOF World Cup via an invitation from SNK Playmore. There was a regional qualifier that Chilean players attended, but they all lost to the Peruvian players. The Peruvian scene seems to be much stronger in the game than Chile at this time. They have a stronger history in the game, but not only that, they’ve always been competitive even when they’ve had worse access to resources than we’ve had. They always figure out ways to keep improving. There’s a huge pool of natural talent in Peru, but because of issues like visas, costs, and other resources, it’s almost impossible for Peruvian players to travel the circuit.
Missing Person: You’re one of the only Chilean players that travels–even for Capcom Cup, Misterio had to drop out due to issues. Do you feel that developers should be doing something to help alleviate the burden on the players for acquiring visas to enter events they’ve qualified for?
Kane Blueriver: I’m pretty sure they want to help, but at the same time, there isn’t much that they can do. Usually, for Latin American players, they need invitations for the events in order to avoid issues in obtaining their visas. It’s not just Latin America–even TSM|Leffen had the same visa issues. I think his team helped a lot to overcome the hurdle. It’s becoming an increasingly prevalent issue as time goes on and the community is more globalized. But even these players who aren’t as privileged because of their finances or country of origin have the same drive as everyone else to get better.
I’m actually helping the two Latin American qualifiers for KOF World Cup–one Mexican and one Peruvian–get their travel arrangements made to go to Japan. They don’t have visas to enter the United States, and if you lack that, you can’t even make layovers there. I had to help them find flights through Mexico to Japan. It was more expensive, but there was no option to go through the United States. It is a real problem that we face in Latin America.
Missing Person: Without going too political, do you feel like the executive orders President Donald Trump is signing will make it even more restrictive for Latin Americans trying to enter the United States?
Kane Blueriver: I think it could be. People who already have their papers in order don’t have much to worry about. But those just starting are likely to face increased difficulties.
Fortunately for us Chileans, we haven’t needed visas to enter the United States or Canada for the last two years, so it’s easier for us than the rest of the region to come here. The only ones, however, that are taking advantage of this, are myself and TSM|ZeRo.
Missing Person: Out of the Latin American region, who would you tell us to keep our eyes on in Street Fighter V?
Kane Blueriver: For Street Fighter, the Brazilians are very strong. Keoma is putting in a lot of effort to return to the position he was in in Ultra Street Fighter IV. Brolynho has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with. Chile has Misterio, of course. Even though he can’t make it to the US, he will represent very well at the regional level. There’s also Baek, who is a strong Nash player. However, he has been playing KOF recently, so I’m not sure which game will be his primary focus. There’s also a Laura player named Moises, who was just behind me in Marvel in Chile. With Laura’s improvements in season 2, he’s dangerous now.
Missing Person: With the KOF World Cup, the world always views China and Latin America as the strongest regions in the game. But the road to the championship will likely have to go through Xiaohai, who is currently considered the best in the game. How do you feel Latin America’s best will fare against China’s best?
Kane Blueriver: The thing about Xiaohai is how much tournament experience he has. Xiaohai’s been around the world to play. Most of the Latin players have never been out of their region. This is going to be a completely different environment for them.
I’ve already had to help the Latin qualifiers get to Japan, and I’ll likely have to help them in Japan too. They don’t know any English or Japanese. They’ll need a lot of help even getting from point A to point B. It will be a completely eye-opening experience. I remember how it was for me the first time I went over there, so it’ll be similar for them.
When you’re mostly centered within your own local community, you don’t have much grasp of what’s happening outside of it. KOF in Latin America has the same connotations that Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had in the States. The same types of people play it, and it’s a very difficult game. I’m sure they’ve never expected to achieve this in their lives playing video games. So I’m sure it’ll make them happy, and I really hope they make the most out of the opportunity.
Missing Person: How do you feel about Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 being relegated to the Players’ Choice Vote for Evo 2017? [And since winning said vote. – Editor]
Kane Blueriver: I’m not too worried about that. Games have their cycles. If people want to continue to play it, that’s great. If they want to abandon it for Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, that’s great too.
At my core, I’m a fighting game player. I’m not just a Marvel player. It’s just that for whatever reason, Marvel clicked better with me at a high level. It’s also unique in that this game gives you the most reward for your time in training mode. That’s why I was able to do well in Marvel. But I still want to bring what I achieved in Marvel to other games.
The vote is out of my control. There’s nothing I can do to keep the game in, so I’m not worried. I don’t like how it’s not about the most passionate community, but who has the most money. But ultimately, it is what it is.
Missing Person: What are your thoughts on Infinite so far?
Kane Blueriver: I’m not too hot on the game right now. The thing that made me love Marvel 3 was how open-ended it was, and how much of a sandbox the game was. Even with bad characters, you were able to create synergy to compete with the strongest individual characters. There are many high-level players doing that. Even at Evo 2016, there were 20 out of 24 characters represented in Top 8. If it had been Marvel 2, there would have been a fraction of that.
I don’t see Infinite going that way. I don’t think it will be a bad game per se, but it looks to be more straightforward. Obviously it will play fast like other Marvel games, but it won’t be as variable as far as synergy is concerned. It will likely be more based on individual character strength, sadly. But I feel the same about Street Fighter V. I don’t necessarily like the game, but in order to achieve what I want, it’s what I have to play.