Shoryuken interview: Big Bird on his first Evo, the Abu Dhabi fighting game scene, and thoughts on Street Fighter V

By on July 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm
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Adel Anouche, a.k.a. NASR Esport’s Big Bird, is a 19-year-old up-and-comer from Abu Dhabi, UAE, who first made his name towards the end of the Street Fighter IV series with his dynamic Guy play. He made an even bigger splash last year in Street Fighter V at Red Bull Kumite 2016 — defeating the likes of Alioune, GamerBee, and Xian with his aggressive Ken.

So far in the 2017 season for the Capcom Pro Tour, Big Bird has had strong results in CPT Europe events, such as Sonic Boom (2nd), The Colosseum (2nd), FFM Rumble 10 (4th), and DreamHack Summer 2017 (5th) with his lowest placings being at Ultimate Fighting Game Arena (25th) and Evo 2017 (33rd). He is currently 5th in the Europe rankings, and 25th globally overall in the CPT standings.

Shoryuken caught up with Big Bird to discuss his first Evo, the Abu Dhabi competitive scene, Street Fighter V, and more.

Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: How was your first Evo experience?

Adel “Big Bird” Anouche: Ah, what can I say… Evo was a magical experience for me. I never thought Evo could be this good, but I was wrong. I enjoyed every minute of it. The off-stream matches were hype, since there were a lot of big names fighting off stream. I just couldn’t get to watch all of them. I had to run around from station to station to be able to catch up with everything that’s happening.

I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, since it’s my first time. I was just excited to finally be there! I loved meeting most of the Americans that I’ve been interacting with on social media for the first time since at least four years ago — that was probably my favorite part of Evo! It was a long trip, but I’d definitely do it all over because the experience is amazing. You just have to be there at least once in your fighting game career.

El Cubano Loco: You got 33rd in SFV. Who did you lose to? How do you feel about your performance at Evo and what do you need to improve and do better?

Big Bird: I lost to Moke in winners top 64 [Moke went onward to later menace the top 8 with his deadly Rashid. – Editor], and then I lost to Bonchan straight after in losers. I feel like I did well against them since I lost 2-1 to both of them, but I know I could’ve taken them out. I was just unlucky in some of the games. They played better than me for sure. I just felt like both of those sets could’ve gone either way.

To be honest, I don’t know what I need to improve on. Maybe match-ups? I honestly have no idea. I won’t blame my losses on me not knowing the match-ups, because I know Rashid very well and I have a good idea about Nash. I just wasn’t the better player that day. What I need to do is to focus on what’s in front of me rather than start making plans on what’s next. At every tournament I basically keep checking on what my path to top eight could potentially be, when I just need to take it one match at a time. I think that’s the most important thing that has been sticking out to me recently!

El Cubano Loco: How is the scene in Abu Dhabi? A lot of people don’t know about it.

Big Bird: There are quite a number of players who play the game, but if I had to count the number of players who actually take this game seriously, I’d say two to three including me. The rest either casually play the game or just play it on the side. We have strong King of Fighters players here, as well as decent Tekken players.

El Cubano Loco: How come you picked Ken as your main in SFV? What drew you to him?

Big Bird: Ken is the closest thing to Guy, I felt — he’s an in-your-face type of character, he has average normals compared to the top tiers, but once he gets in, he can potentially finish the round as he corner carries in one combo. He has a run which is similar to Guy as well. I feel like I can be different from other Ken players with hit confirms, anti-airs, etc. It’s like I have a little room to express myself (aside from throw loops, of course).

NASR|Big Bird (Ken) vs. LUP|Calipower (Kolin, Rashid) at the 31:25 mark.

El Cubano Loco: You made your name towards the end of the Street Fighter IV series. How was the transition to SFV been for you? Do you enjoy the game?

Big Bird: I honestly thought I was gonna be irrelevant coming from SFIV to SFV, but I guess I’m more relevant than I’ve ever been in SFIV. I won’t lie — I was scared for a bit in the beginning, though. I do enjoy the game when I play against high level players — I won’t deny that. But when I play against mid to low level players, I don’t really enjoy the game much, so I usually switch to other characters so I can learn them.

El Cubano Loco: What do you consider the positives and negatives of SFV? What would you add or change to improve the game?

Big Bird: The positives are the lack of crouch tech, it’s a fast-paced game, and it punishes you heavily for your mistakes, so you better be careful. I wouldn’t say it’s a footsie-oriented game, though. As for the negatives, oh, where can I start. First of all, the Crush Counter system needs to be adjusted. The risk/reward of throwing a crush counter normal is heavily skewed, it’s low risk/super high reward most of the time, and characters shouldn’t be able to get a full dash-in combo after a normal randomly crush countering in the neutral. There’s absolutely no need for that. Also, V-Trigger-canceled normals on block should always be minus no matter what. Heavy normals should be -4 or -5, mediums should be -2 and lights should be zero. I don’t care about the reward on hit. Just increase the risk. Let people be forced to hit confirm into V-Trigger.

Also remove anti-air jabs, or whatever needs to be adjusted in order for them to stop working. They’re so scrubby in my opinion, and sometimes it’s more rewarding than an anti-air DP. Also add more defensive options. I don’t like the removal of jump back OS. It honestly added layers of depth to both the offensive and the defensive gameplay, and made the game more fun, but that’s just me. There’s more, but this is all I can think of.

El Cubano Loco: Do you miss Guy? Would you want him in SFV? How would you want him to play in this game?

Big Bird: I do miss playing Guy honestly, he was really fun and my first serious main in a fighting game as well, so I’m kinda attached to him [laughs]. I’d want him to play the same as he did in SFIV. He’d honestly be strong that way.

El Cubano Loco: There’s a rumor that Guy’s master, Zeku, will be in Season 2. Would you drop Ken to play him, if he plays similar to Guy?

Big Bird: I wouldn’t say I’ll drop Ken for him, but I’ll definitely make an effort to learn him. I can’t drop Ken since I’ve invested a lot of time in him. It’ll honestly be a waste of effort if I did, but I’ll definitely give Zeku a fair shot.

El Cubano Loco: What are your initial impressions of Abigail?

Big Bird: I haven’t seen much of him besides the trailer. He looks like Hugo, as he’s big enough. I played Hugo in SFIV on the side, so I don’t know. I might end up trying him later. I’m honestly interested in seeing StormKubo, Infexious, and Alucard try him actually.

El Cubano Loco: What’s next for you in the CPT season? Any upcoming tournaments you’ll be competing in?

Big Bird: I’m going to Fight Club NRW in Germany in August. Maybe VS Fighting as well, depending on my visa. Esports Festival Hong Kong, EGX, SGB, and other European ranking events. I’ll go to as many events I need to go in order to make it. I have 450 points now, so I’m really close to making it to Capcom Cup!

El Cubano Loco: What drives and inspires you to compete in SFV? What are some specific goals you’re looking to accomplish both in and out of competition?

Big Bird: I’m just playing for fun — it’s still a hobby for me at the end of the day. I’m currently studying environmental health and safety at Abu Dhabi University, so that’s the priority. Since I got sponsored recently, I have a duty to fulfill to my team, so yeah, I guess that motivated me a lot to compete this year, since I barely showed up last year. I just hope I can do my team proud. If they’re happy, then I’ll be happy!

Additional sources: Capcom Pro Tour; Red Bull eSports; Capcom Fighters