PR Balrog catches us up on his outlook on Street Fighter V — and other titles!
Now with his classic Street Fighter main at the ready and sponsored by Cygames Beast, Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez took on the competition at Evo 2017 this year, making it to 49th overall. He’s presently #38 on the Capcom Pro Tour global leaderboard, in between fellow Cygames Beast competitors Hx.CYG BST|Daigo Umehara (#45) and RB.CYG BST|Snake Eyez (#7).
I was fortunate enough to get some time to chat with PR Balrog at Mandalay Bay, right before Evo 2017’s Street Fighter V finals kicked off. Replies have been edited for clarity.
Zavian “mushin_Z” Sildra: So, you joined Cygames Beast this year!
Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez: [nodding] Yes.
mushin_Z: How has that benefited you in terms of training and overall opportunities?
PR Balrog: Well, in terms of training, it’s not really that different. I still train with the same people. It’s straightforward. When it comes to opportunities of course, after I left EG [Evil Geniuses]… I was literally tied to their sponsors, their organization, I couldn’t get anything around that. So Cygames is a whole different story! They’re sponsoring me as myself, not as a “team,” so I’m able to get other sponsors, all that stuff. So I think it’s super beneficial for me. I never look for short-term, I always look for long-term.
mushin_Z: Excellent. You competed in four different titles this year; what motivated you to take on these multiple challenges?
PR Balrog: Well… Street Fighter V needs less training time, in my opinion — usually, before, you needed a lot of execution, you needed to study situations, and this game is more… when something hits, you just go in, go in, go in, go in. But that’s what tells me, “OK, I don’t have to practice this game that much, I’ll just go play other games!” Injustice — even though people hate zoning — I think it’s a really fun game, I actually enjoy it.
mushin_Z: [laughs] I love zoning! I even like watching zoning.
PR Balrog: It’s kinda like a breather. Street Fighter V does not have zoning at all, it’s really rare… and the fact that I have to work in Injustice — I have a low tier character [Black Canary] — I have to work to get my wins, it’s actually very refreshing. [smiling] It’s one of those things: I play a top tier character [in Street Fighter V], and I play a low tier character.
mushin_Z: It evens out, right?
PR Balrog: Exactly, yeah! And in Tekken, there comes the execution. You have to be moving all the time, which is very fun to me. And there’s a boxer in there.
mushin_Z: Ah, Steve’s your guy there?
PR Balrog: Yeah, I used to be a Tekken player before I was a Street Fighter player; I’m kind of knowledgeable about the game, and I almost beat a really good top player in that, so I was really excited.
mushin_Z: Which game do you like playing the most?
PR Balrog: I really love Tekken. [nodding]
mushin_Z: This is Street Fighter V‘s second year at Evo; how would you say the competition has changed this year, compared to last year?
PR Balrog: It’s really hard to say, to be honest. The game literally took a whole shift…
mushin_Z: Season 2?
PR Balrog: Exactly. I don’t think the competition has changed much. But I’m really happy for the people that made the top eight, congratulations to them.
mushin_Z: So you went to SFV losers bracket by way of Dogura. What are your thoughts/observations on that particular match?
PR Balrog: Hmm — I actually think he was my hardest match-up. I’ve always known that he’s known to be a “crazy” player, and he likes to do things that are not safe, but the problem is not that — the problem was to be at Evo, and not have sound.
mushin_Z: That has been a complaint from multiple players. [It was reported by participants that many of the stations in pools had an issue where sound was not split properly between the two headsets, making many in-game sound effects inaudible.]
PR Balrog: That basically turns off one of my tools, because I have the turn punch [TAP]. And when I turn punch, he doesn’t know [what charge level is coming out], but I don’t know either! So a lot of times I don’t know if I’m plus or minus. So it’s very bad. I can’t do anything about it, but it was a tough loss for me.
mushin_Z: Would you say it was the same thing for the fight with Infiltration, that ultimately took you out?
PR Balrog: Yeah, it was the same thing. But! Me and Infiltration have had a long history, and I took that loss not very hard. We were both having fun — which is what we’re supposed to be doing, right?
mushin_Z: Do you feel you’d do better against him under better technical circumstances?
PR Balrog: [nods] I believe so.
mushin_Z: Straight up — is TAP too strong?
PR Balrog: [laughs] Yes and no. Because: I feel he needs it.
PR Balrog: But, sometimes I feel he doesn’t.
PR Balrog: It’s kinda like a fifty-fifty. Because I think it does way too much damage; they could change the damage, or change how long it takes to charge. You start seeing level sevens and up now, which was really rare, back in the day. Is it too strong? Maybe. We don’t know yet. [smiles]
mushin_Z: Well, we might not ever know if they change it for Season 3!
PR Balrog: [nods] Exactly — and, Balrog did not even make top 32…
mushin_Z: Even with all the “top tier” talk!
PR Balrog: [laughs]
mushin_Z: MOV is the only player from last year that is in top eight again this year. What does that say to you about how the competition has changed between years?
PR Balrog: MOV has always been a very strong player, no question about that. He’s a very, very “safe” player, so I expected him to reach really high in the competition. But I actually did not expect him to make it again, into top eight. That’s actually amazing. I think he’s an amazing player — the only player to make two [Evo] top eights in Street Fighter V, that tells you something! He’s a very, very strong player.
mushin_Z: Do you have a favorite to win out of the top eight? If you want to make a prediction…
PR Balrog: I would have to pick my brother, F Champ, to win. But it’s very tough for him!
mushin_Z: Would be cool for a Dhalsim player to take it.
PR Balrog: Exactly… but if I’m gonna make a decision as to what I can see… I would say Punk or NuckleDu.
mushin_Z: Seems the safer bet…
PR Balrog: But! If Itazan beats Punk, I think he wins!
mushin_Z: Hmm, yeah, we’ve got Itazan. [Turned out, Itabashi Zangief would not beat Punk; Punk was undefeated until grand finals against Tokido.]
Now, if you had one “wish list” pick, one thing to change about Street Fighter V, what would it be?
PR Balrog: Add a defensive option!
mushin_Z: Any defensive option, or something specifically?
PR Balrog: I don’t know — be creative with it! It feels just way too offensive-oriented, even to me. I’m an aggressive player, and I still don’t like that. So I feel a defensive option, any type of defensive option, would be good.
mushin_Z: Are there any particular players in the scene right now that you see as a rival? That you’re thinking, “I wanna take them on, I wanna beat them.”
PR Balrog: In Street Fighter V? [chuckles]
mushin_Z: In any game, actually.
PR Balrog: … Infiltration.
mushin_Z: Infiltration’s your target?
PR Balrog: He’ll always be. If you go back a couple of Evos… I’m still salty about the Hakan!
mushin_Z: Oh, yes, Hakan… [At Evo 2013, Infiltration unexpectedly switched to Hakan against PR Balrog in Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition top eight, and won; his Hakan win also cemented Infiltration’s ongoing reputation as being skilled with multiple characters at any given time in Street Fighter.]
PR Balrog: That settled it, with me… he’s my rival. And also — in America we call them “demons,” Bonchan is my demon. I want to beat him. So, those two!
mushin_Z: There were a lot of new titles on display here this year, that was a big feature of this Evo; did you get out there to try some? Were there any you had some hands-on time with?
PR Balrog: I don’t like playing demos! So I did not try anything…
mushin_Z: You want to wait for the finished product.
PR Balrog: Yes — because every single time that I say something about a demo, it either blows up in the wrong way, or I’m a “shill.” So I’m just gonna stay out of that conversation, and just wait until the game comes out!
mushin_Z: Any of those titles out there something you’re looking forward to in their completed form?
PR Balrog: Of course, Dragon Ball Z [Dragon Ball FighterZ] and Marvel vs. Capcom [Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite]. Also — I saw that BlazBlue has a tag-team… something!
mushin_Z: Yeah! That came of the blue today — er, literally. That was a surprise, I think, for everyone.
PR Balrog: I’m actually excited for that.
mushin_Z: Yeah, Arc System Works and Bandai Namco are doing a good job keeping their secrets! Very awesome. [The trailers for BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle and Geese Howard joining Tekken 7 had been just shown earlier at the arena finals.]
In your own words, what does competing here at Evo mean to you?
PR Balrog: My life. Basically. When I was little, we played a lot… in ’09 I came here, I basically made a name for myself, no sponsor, no nothing… and now I’m here! It’s basically my life, just for the fact that it made me a great person, it made me become a pro player. When you’re a pro player you have so much stress and everything; but as long as you can take that stress out, and just play your heart out… It has made me who I am today.
mushin_Z: Anything you’d like to add in closing for the SRK readers?
PR Balrog: I love you guys, that’s it!