Hailing from the Great White North, a new dictator is preparing a reign of terror. Elias “L.E.S” Tsidku from Toronto has begun taking down foes left and right in a dominating fashion with his amazing spacings from his patented M. Bison playbook. He fought his way into an invitation to Northern Arena Knock Out — via the Canadian National Exhibition Open in Toronto — where he took out Montréal’s Drae “Yomi” Games in a nail-biting grand final. He followed that up with a top 8 spot at DreamHack Montréal.
While in Montréal, I sat down with L.E.S to discuss his approach to M. Bison.
Corey “Missing Person” Lanier: How do you feel about how DreamHack has gone so far for you?
Elias “L.E.S” Tsidku: So far so good. I’m not the type of guy that feels like I can sleep on anybody. This is especially true with Street Fighter V. It’s extremely volatile with so many characters that can do large bursts of damage. For me, I always keep an eye out for people, by playing them in person or online — even if I know them. That’s how I keep focused on doing what I do best.
Missing Person: Your character — M. Bison — is one of the most popular characters in the Canadian scene. How do you feel he does against the higher tiers that dominate the tournament circuit?
L.E.S: I feel like Bison is overhyped. He was even overhyped when the game first came out. At first, he and Dhalsim were characters where players struggled, feeling like they can’t do anything against them. Truth be told, and I’ve always felt this — players just aren’t taking these characters to the lab. He does well against certain characters. Other characters do blow him up. The top 5 in this season, such as Cammy, Balrog, Zangief, Karin, do very well against him. Their wake-ups do crazy damage. Bison can do a lot of damage as well, but the only thing he can really do on wake up is standing short into EX Scissor Kick.
He also struggles against command grab characters. I also technically count throw loop characters in there, and if you do that, there are nine in the game. What other Street Fighter title has this? None. With Bison’s walk speed, you have to know the match-up specifically and you have to know the person you’re playing. I know [how to play] other characters, but when it comes to tournaments, I stick with Bison. When it comes to the top tier characters, I have to know the person’s playstyle, and keep the personal metagame up. I try to abuse their knowledge of their character and lack thereof with Bison.
Missing Person: With that in mind, which do you feel is more important: character knowledge or player knowledge?
L.E.S: Player knowledge is way more important in this game. In any other game, character knowledge trumps it, then you have to have the fundamentals to back that up. In this game you can play two different R. Mika players. One can play really crazy, and the other can play a very neutral-based game. But when it comes to the ground game, who’s going to throw more? Who is going to go for meaties more? Who is going to send you to the corner faster? You really have to guess a lot more with this game.
That’s what I think a lot of people don’t realize about this game. This game is stressful because you have to think of the player rather than the character. They can be unsafe on block, and you miss a punish because you weren’t paying attention to that, which leaves them free to do whatever they want.
Missing Person: You also played Bison in Street Fighter IV. Do you feel like this version of Bison is better?
L.E.S: Nope. He’s doing better because of the changes in Season 2. They robbed characters of invincible DPs, so they have to take everything Bison dishes out until you guess correctly to escape the pressure. Some people tend to get afraid of the crush counter, and panic once it happens — ultimately giving up.
But if you think about it, Bison in SFIV had faster movement, 50/50 mix-ups with Psycho Crusher on your wakeup. I actually created one that was controllable in the corner late in Ultra Street Fighter IV. He also had cancels off of far standing strong, and he also had fully invincible EX scissor kicks, which completely shut down the fireball game.
Missing Person: Plus he had solid reversal options.
L.E.S: Yeah! He had three reversals. Sadly they nerfed his teleport, which I don’t think they should have done. With three bars, he could reversal EX scisssor kicks, and if it hit, you could Focus Attack Dash Cancel forward to extend the combo, and if it was blocked, you could FADC backwards, which made it completely safe.
In this game, they made him very slow but very strong if he touches you. But on the flip side, he has no reversal, and loses to grapplers because of that. You have to be very knowledgeable in the ground game. If you’re not and get afraid of the player you’re against, you potentially lose to yourself.
Missing Person: You did very well at the Northern Arena CNE Open. You earned $2,500 for your efforts there. How has that felt? Has the money changed anything for you?
L.E.S: It hasn’t really changed much, but it has helped me a lot. I was putting a lot of my money into travelling this year. I wanted to get out more. I’m a freelancer by trade, and I want to connect with people in my field as well as sponsors and sponsored players as well. But at the same time, the $2,5000 helped me out with my last trip to East Coast Throwdown as well as this trip to Montréal.
One great thing for me is that it has given me exposure to Canada. One of the people I work for is Cineplex, who is the parent company for World Gaming. Due to conflict of interests, I couldn’t join the World Gaming tournaments both years that they’ve happened. I feel like I could’ve won the one in 2016 that Chi-Rithy won, and I wanted to also join the one NuckleDu won this year. I also can’t attend EGLX for the same reason.
I was doing well at the start of Street Fighter V due to the overhype of Bison and people’s lack of match-up knowledge. My time is not now, but I believe it will come, and I just have to stay patient.
Missing Person: Does it change your mentality at all going into Northern Arena Knockout and appearing on TSN?
L.E.S: It doesn’t change it at all. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you are playing, because you’re playing the same game. The mindset of how to play this game cannot change whether you want to hype yourself up thinking you’re the best in the world, or you won a couple of money matches the night before then got scraped in tournament, or vice versa. It’s up and down in Street Fighter V.
But I’m personally psyched that Canada is finally getting attention in Street Fighter. Sin, Orangeman, Drae “Yomi” Games, and myself is a pretty good mix. I also just heard that some Japanese players will be making their way to Northern Arena Knockout, like AFG — the Sagat player from Street Fighter IV — is coming along with Momochi. This is pretty big to be hearing about players from different parts of the world. I had initially thought it would just be North American players, so this is bigger than I first anticipated.
Missing Person: How do you feel about your chances with all the killers coming out?
L.E.S: One thing I’ve noticed is that Japanese players do struggle playing against Bison. Some players do very well against him, but others still struggle against him. Europe and North America do better against him. You have players like Pnoy, Tampa Bison, Jeron and myself who play him in North America. In Europe you have players like Problem X, Tyrant and Phenom for a time.
I do think I have a chance. My goal is to at least make top 8. If I can do that, then I’m already in the spotlight. Then I can just focus on one guy. I hate having to focus on 50 players, and considering who I’ll have to play if I win or lose to someone. It becomes a matter of figuring out who they’ll pick and what they’re capable of. Case in point, I played FluxWaveZ — who’s known for R. Mika — and he picks Abigail. I had to see what his Abigail was capable of, and after I beat him, he went back to Mika. I could’ve lost because of that, because I had to change my mindset away from his Abigail and rely on what I know about his Mika.
It’s the same thing, I’m waiting however many days to see who I face, and who else I could see later down the line. I do still feel like I have the confidence in scaring my opponent and making sure they’re playing me. I want them to feel like they’re not just playing any other Bison.
Missing Person: You also went to the Red Bull regional battles last season, alongside your teammates VastEnd and Orangeman. How was that experience for you?
L.E.S: Well, I mean, a lot people were complaining about input lag on the setups there. It was crazy. People kept saying they were missing a lot of simple things. I dropped a couple of things and mistimed my reactions on a couple of things. I held off on complaining thinking it was just me, because sometimes I have to admit that I can choke. When they switched the monitors, it made a difference. Unfortunately, I lost to KruZee from Florida, but then I saw the whole Florida team lose to FluxWaveZ, and I knew I had this. I was starting to get a feel for everything. I was happy with my performance for going in there and getting two wins. Every city we played, the score was 3-2 or 2-3. It was really close.
Missing Person: How much time do you spend researching your opponent before a tournament?
L.E.S: I don’t spend that much time on research, unless it’s a player I’m consistently losing to. Then I start researching what I’m losing to. When I played Idom at Defend the North, I gave him the hardest time out of anyone else in the tournament — and that was the first time we’d played in tournament. Then we ran it back in casuals and I was beating him there. Watching is one thing. Being there and experiencing it first hand is the most valuable teacher. That’s when you understand why they do certain setups against you that they don’t do against anyone else. It all falls back to what I said before — it depends on the player, what they know about their character and the match-up.
Missing Person: You’ve been in the Toronto scene for a long time. How do you feel about Toronto right now in the larger scene?
L.E.S: We’re getting there. We’re getting very strong. I feel like Toronto has a lot of strong players in general against other scenes in the United States. I’ve been to NLBC and played strong players in Florida, and they do have strong players. When it comes to the top players, we get trumped. But when it comes to overall, the US may have a lot of players but I feel like the overall quality is better in Toronto. I wouldn’t do so well when I travel if it weren’t for the players I play in Toronto.
That goes for anybody. If your scene isn’t strong, you won’t do well in tournaments even if you play online. If you’re not playing the right people online, you don’t well in tournaments. I feel like Canada is doing well, but I especially think that Toronto is getting there. I feel like we’re going to get to the days where Toronto was dominant in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Japan was always best in the game, but the next spot below them was Toronto. Players like C-Royd and JS Master — Blitzman can confirm this. We’ve seen these players firsthand destroy everyone who came through Toronto. That’s where I want Toronto to be in this game.
Elias went on to finish fifth at DreamHack Montreal, defeating fellow Torontonian Adrian “STDxSin” Sin before falling to AW|Nemo in another nail-biter. After his elimination, I followed up with him.
Missing Person: You had a really great top 8 at DreamHack. You first had to team kill STDxSin, then face Nemo in a really close match. Take us back through that.
L.E.S: The first match, I had to get a feel for how he plays. We had played casuals at East Coast Throwdown, and every round I would have him down to the wire and he’d make these ridiculous comebacks. It’s part of the game; V-Trigger just lends itself to this. By the second game, I knew what to do. I didn’t mind giving him some space. I didn’t mind him trying to feel his way in, because as long as I was able to check him in neutral, he would have to go crazy or slow down. That’s when I took advantage of that, and was able to catch him with frame traps and delayed buttons, just to make sure he had to take everything I had. It worked and I was up 2-1. In the third game, he was going for a lot more armor, so I was trying to force him to go for the punish when I would jump in. So that would make him lose his armor. I don’t mind that so long as he doesn’t have armor anymore. But if I jumped in and he didn’t do it, then I’m in. For me, that’s a win-win. So his approach was likely to be charged fireballs, so I had to treat that match like an in and out match. It’s stick and move due to his comeback potential.
Missing Person: Yesterday, you talked about wanting to put Toronto on the map in the community. Do you feel like you did this?
L.E.S: It’s not enough, not for me. I feel like I could’ve gotten top 3, but even if I won DreamHack, it’s not enough for me. I need to let people know that you cannot sleep on a scene that’s growing rapidly. That’s my view on it, so I’m always hungry.
Missing Person: What’s your thoughts going into Canada Cup?
L.E.S: I believe we can do this. I believe in my city as well as Montréal. You can’t sleep on anybody, but we have strong players between these two cities.
Missing Person: Are there any shout-outs that you’d like to give?
L.E.S: I of course want to give a shout-out to everyone in the scene in Toronto. I wouldn’t be here without them. They’re my driving force, and I want them and Canada to get noticed. I also want to shout-out Montreal. I also want to shout-out my training partners in the US, because without them, I wouldn’t be able to have the strength I have going into tournaments. I also want to give a shout-out to my mom, who has been my biggest supporter. She has always appreciated the fact that I’m putting in the work. If it weren’t for the fact that I showed her why I was doing this, she’d be very worried every time I traveled to an event. Especially with what’s going on in the States right now. If it weren’t for my family’s support I wouldn’t continue doing this.
L.E.S ultimately finished just outside top 8 at Northern Arena Knock Out, defeating Echo Fox|Justin Wong in the opening round before falling to BX3|Phenom and being eliminated by Rise|Smug.