Bryant “Smug” Huggins has been a people’s champion of sorts, since his emergence onto the scene as the premier Dudley player in North America in the Street Fighter IV series. Come 2017, not much has changed, as his Balrog gameplay in Street Fighter V has wowed spectators almost as much as his antics in front of the camera.
At Northern Arena Knockout, we sat down with Smug about his season to date, as well as his preparations for Capcom Cup 2017.
Corey “Missing Person” Lanier: How have you enjoyed your time in Canada?
Bryant “Smug” Huggins: Yeah, I’ve enjoyed it. This is my third time here. The first time was in Calgary, then the last two times were in Toronto.
Missing Person: You finished fourth at Northern Arena Knockout. Let’s go over a few of your matches. Your first match was against Orangeman, who put you into losers bracket.
Smug: I underestimated him. I definitely came out with a bad start. I snapped out of it, but talking about the Orangeman set, he definitely learned the match-up. The last time we faced, I beat him casuals and tournament. I actually beat him at Brooklyn Beatdown last year. The first time we played, he beat me at East Coast Throwdown last year. That was the first time he became known. I then learned the Rashid matchup, and played him at Brooklyn Beatdown and beat him.
This tournament, he got the best of me. He really did pretty well. So now I have to go back to the lab on the match-up.
Missing Person: Let’s talk about the match with you and Marn. He took the end of the set particularly hard, where you EX uppercutted through his buttons.
Smug: When I’ve played Marn, I noticed he likes to push a lot of buttons. So I took that into consideration. Since he liked to push a lot of buttons, I decided to start doing a lot of moves with armor. It’s unsafe, yes, but I know that if you’re pressing buttons that it’ll absorb one attack and it’ll hit you. I simply knew it was going to work against him.
Missing Person: There was a lot of trash talk post-match, but no hard feelings on your end?
Smug: I’m still cool with him. I get that a lot of it is the character I use. But on the same token, he plays a cheap character as well, and his pocket character is R. Mika. It was in the heat of the moment, and his head wasn’t in the right space. I’m pretty sure he’s cool now.
Missing Person: Your final match was against BX3|Phenom, and it was a really close match. You have said that you struggle with Necalli, so walk us through how you brought it close.
Smug: With Phenom, he’s one of my demons. The first time I played him in Street Fighter V was at Next Level before Brooklyn Beatdown. We played an exhibition and he beat me 5-0. It was bad. I think I only won the first round of the set. It was just like after that, he said, “Alright, Smug. I know how you play. It’s time for me to win.” The next time I played him was at South by Southwest in casuals. He was bodying me there, but it was a long set so eventually I started to catch on and get games. Now it’s kind of a back-and-forth thing.
This time, I was a little more comfortable but not as confident as I usually am. I’m catching on, but he’s still always a threat to me.
Missing Person: One other match I’d like to touch on was your match with L.E.S to get into top 8. There were a few times where you got reset off of low strong where you were caught jumping. Was that something you did intentionally to throw him off?
Smug: Yes, because with M. Bison, that button, as well as low forward — whether it hits or blocks — they’re going to do something afterward, usually scissor kick. Once they’re under pressure in the corner, they’ll start to ask themselves if it’s their turn yet, and push buttons. So jumping is the setup for it.
Missing Person: You’ve been known to cheese up for the cameras quite a bit at tournaments. Do you feel like your streaming has helped you be comfortable on camera?
Smug: Yeah. Actually the first time I was in front of a TV camera was at ELEAGUE. At first, I was so nervous. I had told my parents I was going to be on TV. It was live, so if you mess up, your parents are watching live and it’s so embarrassing.
But after that, I decided to not let it get to me. So it doesn’t affect my gameplay, and when the camera is pointed on me, I like to send messages. I like looking at the camera to tell people that they saw how I out-fundamentaled my opponent. Take notes.
Missing Person: You’ve been known for playing boxer archetype characters — Dudley in Street Fighter IV and Balrog in Street Fighter V. Were there any fundamentals beyond the archetype that you found?
Smug: Well first, most people know I started with Karin when they game first released, and there were no DLC characters yet. I was in a character crisis due to Dudley not being in the game, but I still wanted to play. I saw a future with me in this game. I actually had a late start, because I dropped the game due to having to focus on school. I wasn’t doing to well due to trying to focus on improving my game. After I got my grades back up, I entered CEO last year. I didn’t do too well due to picking the game back up. When Balrog came out, and I saw the trailer, he just looked so much fun. I knew I was going to have a good time playing him. He was just too hype for me not to play this dude.
When I started to play him, I realized he had some very Dudley things. At first, I just wanted Dudley, and I still want him. But people keep saying that he is just like Dudley in this game because he has target combos, deals massive amounts of damage, and has high/low mixups, he goes through projectiles. He’s a very intimidating character, plus he’s a boxer. I love taking people to Duff City.
Missing Person: It’s definitely paying off for you — you’re currently in the running for Capcom Cup.
Smug: Yeah, I’m glad. I honestly didn’t expect to do well at a major. I never expected to win. I always thought, “As long as I get top 8, or just see myself on Twitch, I’m cool.” But then eventually I saw myself doing better and better in tournaments. So now people have started looking at me as a threat, which I feel honored.
Missing Person: How do you feel about your chances at Capcom Cup?
Smug: I feel like I’m prepared for everybody, because I play everybody. I’m starting to travel now. My sponsorship allows me to travel. Before, my travels came out of pocket. Because I can go to more tournaments, I can learn match-ups from international players. That’s why I like losing. I don’t like winning. If I win, I beat you, but then we’re eventually going to have to run it back, and then I’m going to forget how I beat you. I could watch my match but now you’ve probably found something new. I like losing more because I learn more when I lose than when I win.
Missing Person: So you definitely feel like winning is paramount to titles?
Smug: Yeah, because when I lose, I have something to work on in the match-up. There’s certain times that I’ll be playing and lose to the same thing. Then I think, “OK, I’ve gotta work on that.” Then when I go back home in my free time, I go in the training mode and ask my friends for example, “Hey, can you pick Ryu? There was something I was losing to in tournament.”
Missing Person: Since you mentioned Ryu, I want to go back to Evo. You had a double jeopardy moment against China’s Abao at Evo 2017. Take us back on that. It’s not often that you hear of players struggling with Ryu these days.
Smug: Right. At the end of the day, I got outplayed the first time we met. No one’s really played Ryu since Season 2, but that’s not a huge excuse on my part. I was a little rusty on the matchup, but at the same time, he is the best Ryu in the world. If I lose to him, that’s alright. I could tell he definitely studied the match-up. I was doing certain things that only people who have studied the match-up would know to look out for. He was definitely fully prepared. I definitely respect him a lot for it.
Missing Person: He’s known more for his defensive approach. Did that throw you off?
Smug: Yes. Both his defensive options and his neutral game was amazing. It made me slow down. By the time I did, it was too late, as it was the last round of the first set.
Missing Person: But then you had made all the adjustments you needed in the runback, correct?
Smug: Yeah, but the thing was this was my first match at Evo. Then I had to run through losers all the way to top 64. But I was more prepared in loser’s bracket for Abao. That night I went into training mode and practiced against his play, and I was able to take it from him in losers bracket.
Missing Person: You did mention that Rise is sending you out more. What other events will we see you at before Capcom Cup?
Smug: I don’t want to date this article too much, but I’ll be at Canada Cup. There’s not too many tournaments left, and I’m just focusing and studying for Capcom Cup right now.