Shoryuken chats with GamerBee, at Evo 2017.
ZOWIE’s Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang is a popular competitor, well-known for his Necalli in Street Fighter V, but even more so for his play in the Street Fighter IV series with Elena and Adon, earning spots in prior Evo finals. This year, he landed just shy of the Street Fighter V top 32, at 33rd place. He’s currently ranked #23 on this year’s Capcom Pro Tour leaderboard.
It was my pleasure to catch up with GamerBee at Evo, shortly before the Street Fighter V finals at Mandalay Bay on Sunday. Here’s what we talked about — he remains critical of Street Fighter V‘s mechanics while putting a positive spin on what the game means for the FGC as a whole. Replies have been edited for clarity.
Zavian “mushin_Z” Sildra: This is Street Fighter V‘s second year at Evo…
Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang: Yes.
mushin_Z: How would you say the competition has changed overall from last year, to this year?
GamerBee: I would think that in the first year, a lot of people were still trying to figure out what is the most effective way to play Street Fighter V… In the first year, you know, the whole game balance was totally different. That year was more like a footsies game, and this year is more like “risk and reward”… so the top tier characters, they get more reward, and you can’t take less risks anymore, because you don’t have as much defensive techniques you can use anymore.
So, for the second year, I will say: we now see a lot of new persons coming out, because in first-to-two, anything can happen… and we see a lot of the younger generation, they don’t have to over-strategize, they only need to play by their instincts. And, also by their reactions. Maybe they have studied top players more, so they know their habits… So I think the second year is more difficult for top players, because we are targets.
mushin_Z: So you think the way the game has changed — between season one and season two — is definitely steering toward a particular kind of play that is encouraging newer players to come up and succeed, rather than older players continuing to adapt and hold their positions?
GamerBee: Yes, I feel like from what I see, the old player is still trying to figure this out… We choose one character, we figure out every possibility for this character, but for the new generation, I feel like for Street Fighter V and esports you now have to look at the whole game, the game balance, and choose the right character to counterpick, or to perform a certain strategy for winning. So, character loyalty will be getting less and less common in the future. That’s what I’m seeing right now.
ZOWIE|GamerBee vs. BX3|Phenom (Evo 2017 SFV top 64)
mushin_Z: So, you first got knocked into the losers bracket by Phenom, if I’m right…
mushin_Z: What can you tell me about that match? What are your thoughts and observations on how that particular fight/match-up turned out?
GamerBee: Well, for the past few months, I’ve lost to Phenom many times… but somehow, [smiling wryly] I still believe my Necalli is better than his!
GamerBee: I really think so! And every time, I try to prove it. But I’m missing something. I haven’t figured out what it is yet — so I can’t stop him, or I miss something in the game. But I’m confident! I think I still can beat him in the mirror match.
mushin_Z: Phenom is part of that “younger generation” we’re talking about, so he’s approaching the game with a different perspective, he’s approaching Necalli differently than you’re approaching Necalli…
GamerBee: [nods] Yeah.
mushin_Z: I want to see more of how you guys take each other on in the future. Now, it was Machabo that eliminated you ultimately…
GamerBee: [nodding] Yeah!
mushin_Z: Tell me more about that match.
GamerBee: I think Machabo has a really simple playstyle — but, unfortunately, he also plays Necalli, and I played two different Necallis in a very short time… I didn’t transition very well between the matches, and it caused me to lose. And, of course in first-to-two anything can happen; I could have won that match, but Machabo took the risks, and I got hit. I lost.
mushin_Z: What are your thoughts on how Necalli feels now, compared to season one? Are you committed to sticking to him with the current situation? Do you think he’s stronger in season two? Weaker?
GamerBee: I would definitely say Necalli is weaker in season two. But he is still able to win, because he has the damage, he has the mixups. The only thing he has to do — you can’t play safe to win, with Necalli, you have to take risks. And that’s not really my style! Maybe I’m too “old school,” old-fashioned, but I totally think Necalli is still really strong in season two, he definitely can win tournaments. It’s just that now, every tournament is more like playing Poker. I know the strategy, I know what I can win with this “hand,” but still, when people go crazy, I still lose!
mushin_Z: Do you think it falls more into the realm of gambling, or is it more of a mind game, more of a “read”?
GamerBee: Hmm… mind games… It does have mind games, it’s just that the risk/reward is very high right now. It’s supposed to be high [in this game]. So in that regard, every decision becomes more like a gamble. I would say of course it’s a mind game, but on the other side, you have to make a bet with your instincts, so it doesn’t really feel like a mind game at the same time.
mushin_Z: On your SFV “wish list” — you’re talking about how the game forces one type of play — what’s one change you think Capcom needs to make, to make this the type of game you want to play? For you personally, not for the “scene.” What’s GamerBee want?
GamerBee: Let’s make Crush Counters… gone.
mushin_Z: [chuckles] You don’t want to see any Crush Counters? Or just less of them?
GamerBee: This is a really hard decision! I totally understand why Capcom did this. Because they’re making the game easier to play, to attract more viewers — because it’s easier to understand, easier to see upsets. But it seems with the Crush Counter, there’s no defensive option, and things like this make the game so you don’t have to be really skillful; you can still do damage — because in older times, if you wanted to do lots of damage, you needed lots of practice. There was a high skill cap. But now, everyone can do the same high-damage combos, the only different matter is how to hit it. In this game, certain characters have really good Crush Counters, and one Crush Counter can change everything. Even a new player, or one from the middle range… I’m “better” than you, but you can still beat me, because of Crush Counters, and the related knockdown pressure mixups. They can still win. If we take out that thing, it will become like an “older” Street Fighter V… the people like us will prefer it more, because you’ll have to work even harder to get damage and mixups, everything — but maybe some people, especially the younger generation, don’t want that, maybe Capcom doesn’t want that.
mushin_Z: Do you think they’re making a deliberate choice to move the game in a direction that will attract a new generation?
GamerBee: Yes, of course. I’m really sure that’s their strategy. The reason why they have to do this is that we’ve already seen this happen and happen again: every popular fighting game, they have to release a new version. The “Ultra,” the “Super,” and they get more complicated. But every time they get harder, the skill cap is slowly rising… of course people that have stuck with playing will still like the new, harder games, and it makes it more fun to play, for them — and you have to respect the top players, because you know how hard it is. Maybe, Capcom just wants to try something new. Let’s make the game simple, so everyone can get started, and you don’t have to worry about practice; I guess that’s their aim.
mushin_Z: How does it make you feel that there’s this game that you’ve put so much time and effort and focus into — this franchise, that’s now moving in this direction?
GamerBee: OK — the only downside is: I’m lagging, I’m still trying to adapt to a new system. But, but — I do like that Street Fighter V is bringing so many opportunities to the whole fighting game scene. It’s actually a big benefit for everyone. Though I am still struggling to figure out how to play this game — it’s OK, because we get more opportunities than ever before. So, looking to the future, I’d say this has been a good decision [smiling], it’s just I don’t like being the person that has to make the sacrifice!
GamerBee: I still want to catch up to that boat, that plane, I want to go far with this opportunity! So even we who are struggling, I would still say: maybe we should keep this change right now, because it’s good for everyone.
mushin_Z: To wrap up, is there anything you’d like to personally add for SRK readers?
GamerBee: Hmm… for us foreign users, even though I can speak English, it’s still really hard to use the forum system. It’s a really good place to discuss tips in detail. I want to be part of it! So maybe in the future, how about a section in Chinese, or in Japanese? Every pro player is playing Street Fighter V… SRK is the most important fighting game forum in the world, so I wish we could all discuss the game in the same place. A forum that would be easier for every Mandarin speaker, or Japanese speaker, to use — that would be awesome. I’ve played fighting games for a long time, and we all play differently. If we really want to get stronger in the future, we should really combine everyone together. Like Evo! Every major fighting game is at Evo, we come together into a really strong force that can compete with other esports. In the future, I think we should do that more and more.
mushin_Z: Maybe Evo Japan is a step in this direction.
GamerBee: It’s a start!