It was an exciting weekend full of top-tier competition: Combo Breaker 2017 featured top-level players from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and more. Among the many games featured, BlazBlue: Central Fiction included 132 entrants.
The finals included a heated match with quite the storyline behind it: Cyclops Osaka|Dogura versus Panda Global|SKD. This BlazBlue: Central Fiction Grand Finals match at Combo Breaker 2017 proved a different outcome between the two. They had faced each other in two different Grand Finals this year, already.
Jachin “SuperKawaiiDesu” Harte (a.k.a. SKD) talked to Shoryuken after the fight, and shared some insight into his personal development, how sponsorship changed his competitive career, and what he would like to change in BlazBlue: Central Fiction if there was a patch.
Luke “Woocash” Siuty: What was your last event?
Jachin “SKD” Harte: It was Final Round. It was pretty good, I played well, up until Grand Finals. I played pretty good that entire weekend, especially those matches. I do feel like I choked up a bit… everyone went in on me, they were like, “you choked so bad,” I think both sets were 3-2 for Grand Finals. It was against Dogura.
Woocash: Leading up to Combo Breaker, what were you doing to change the outcome?
SKD: Mainly just, for my situation, taking better care of myself outside of the game. That was really important to me in terms of performing well, because it was a really big obstacle. I wasn’t ready for how significant these things would have an effect on me. I spent a lot of time over the past few months trying to get myself in a better frame of mind to actually play. And it’s finally bearing fruit, so it’s really cool.
Woocash: You got sponsored fairly recently with Panda Global. Tell us what it’s like, and what changed for you personally?
SKD: A lot of tournaments in the past, I would look at them, and be like, “I’m not really feeling that too much.” I really wouldn’t want to spend my own money on them. But at the end of the day, attending those things was really good for me in terms of practice, but it wasn’t feasible. Now, I can hit everything. It’s really good for me as a player, too. I get to play more in tournaments, it’s really helpful.
Woocash: Walk us through your matches with Dogura. What are some things that aren’t as visible to people who watched?
SKD: It’s really fun, because right after Frosty Faustings, we did a casual set off-stream. It was FT5, and this was right when I was struggling a lot with myself. I finally felt I dug really deep and went through it. The start was streamed, the rest wasn’t. I won the first game, lost the next three, then I had a moment, “Hey, I’m way better than this,” and won the next four. I knew I could do it.
After Final Round, he goes up to me and says, “You’re better than me,” and I’m like, “Ooh…” I felt a little bad. I was like, “You really don’t have to say that to me.” I don’t really think like that, I don’t think I’m better than him. I just want to play my best. That’s kind of where I felt like he was coming from, I didn’t really play my best.
Finally, I feel I’m getting closer and closer to that, every time I compete. It’s been really good, and I’m glad I got the opportunity to travel so much recently. I feel like that really helped speed up my recovery, so to speak.
Woocash: Specifically against Dogura, match-wise or strategy-wise, what kind of things were you doing to make sure that you beat him this time?
SKD: Right before the set, I watched my Grand Final matches from FR. I glossed over them, and looked at myself. Mainly, I looked at where he would respond, but also what my responses were very nervous. I needed to be more confident and impose a little more. My character is super strong. In that sense, the risk-reward is something I should really abide by and not be afraid to exercise. This time, I really stuck it to him. This is my advantage situation, and I’ll keep it like that!
I played very low-commit. I made sure everything was very safe. Didn’t take a lot of risk, and the spots where I would take risks are usually very unexpected. A lot of decisions happened very fast, so I feel like I caught him off-guard a lot. Which was not the most consistent strategy, but I felt it in the moment.
Woocash: Do you feel you figured him out as a player?
SKD: No, no… I mean, we’ve played before, and… I just feel like a lot of the times, especially in that match-up, the neutral is really bad for Azrael. [Izayoi] kind of wins that match-up. If we’re both playing well, I feel like it should go in my favor. That only ever happened if we played casual sets.
Having all my friends around me too is really nice. A lot of support from people. Everyone wanted me to do well, and I did. It was pretty uplifting.
Woocash: If there was a patch released, what kind of changes would you like to see in the game?
SKD: Mainly, the way I feel the game has turned, Overdrive is the most prominent separator between the strong characters and the weak characters. Especially the characters who have ways to deal with the Overdrive reversal, Exceed Accel. Some characters can ignore it completely, some characters have to respect it so much. I think they should slow it down very slowly, so that every character can jab into it on block, that would be very nice. I think a lot of characters’ offense could be toned down. I honestly don’t think it’s too bad, but I play a crazy character, defensively. She has all the options to deal with it. Without making the game super oppressive, every character would have to have options like she does. It probably would be best to just tone down the offense of those characters a lot.
BlazBlue used to be very… how to say this, the pacing wasn’t so urgent all the time. I don’t really have to escape this pressure situation, and I can sit here and wait, and if I want to get a hit on offense, you’d really have to subvert expectation. Do something that they’re not expecting. It’s a really nice, kind of fun dynamic, but now, a lot of top-tier characters can just steamroll you. It’s not terrible, it’s still fun. It’s very manageable. Honestly, I don’t have too many complaints about this version. Mainly, I think, universally characters should be able to pressure a little bit better too. It’s just homogenization of character ability to impose themselves in certain situations. Right now, some of the bottom tiers are super sad!
Woocash: What’s on deck for you next, in terms of events?
SKD: CEO! I’ll be going to CEO. Right after that, I want to go to UMAD, a Montréal tournament, Ultimate Montréal Air-Dashers. It’s an anime-only Montréal tournament, the scene there is great. I’ve been missing it for so many years. It finally came back, and wow, it’s time go. Finally, I have the opportunity to, I definitely intend to make it, it’s early July.
Woocash: Final thoughts?
SKD: I guess my moral for this tournament is, take care of yourself. You’re a human too. Whatever you do outside the game, you’re still you, you’re still there. It’s really important, it takes a lot of effort, it pays off. It does pay off. Definitely, it’s something to keep in mind.
[Feature image credit: TheSassageKing video stream; left: Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki, right: Jachin “SKD” Harte]