Sean “Imstilldadaddy” Dench of Team Invictus has seen his stock rise lately. Having become a staple of the UK’s Gfinity series, he has seen himself traveling more and making waves within the FGC. After his top 8 finish at Canada’s Northern Arena Knockout event, he has shown he has a bright future on the circuit.
While he was in Toronto for Northern Arena, I sat down with Dench to talk about his play as well as his goals within the scene.
Corey “Missing Person” Lanier: It was great seeing you here. How did you enjoy your time in Toronto?
Sean “Imstilldadaddy” Dench: It was wonderful. Toronto is a lovely city. It’s one of the best cities I’ve been to.
Missing Person: You had an amazing run to the Winners side of top 8 at Northern Arena, but it was cut short by Momochi. What are your thoughts on the match?
Imstilldadaddy: At first, I wasn’t playing too well against him. After the first game, I sort of realized what I was doing wrong. The key was that I was using Guile’s back knuckle — forward fierce punch — as an anti-air. I use it a lot against people who empty jump. He saw that and got me with that knowledge early on in the game. When I recognized it, I started to get the upper hand.
I feel like that match-up’s in Guile’s favor. I could see that he was struggling against the Sonic Booms, and I noticed a pattern with him. I started to feel really comfortable in the match, but at the end of the set, I made a crucial mistake. I feel like I could have held back, but I did the wrong anti-air. But I feel like I played well outside of that.
Missing Person: Following that up, you were eliminated by Smug. How about that match for you?
Imstilldadaddy: Despite losing to him, I was very fortunate. I could’ve had to play him in the second round, to get into top 8. But because Orangeman — the good Canadian Rashid player — beat him, the bracket shifted in my favor.
At the start, I was weighing whether to go Guile or Laura, because that’s a better match-up. I also used to use her a lot, but I was a little rusty. When I switched to Guile, I was able to get a game off of him, but it’s an uphill battle the entire time. If I could go back to it now, I would have ran Guile the whole way through. But he played very well, so I have to give it up to him.
Missing Person: You got to play a lot of the Toronto players, not only at Northern Arena but at Raiders Esports Centre the night before. Who impressed you the most?
Imstilldadaddy: First of all, Toronto is really good at this game. But I would have to say that L.E.S — the M. Bison player — is one of the best in the city. Drae “Yomi” Games and Orangeman were both in my hotel room the night before the event, and they are really solid. Drae was able to beat NuckleDu today, and he also gave me trouble as well in casuals. I feel like Laura is one of my easiest match-ups, but he plays a different style of Laura that was giving me trouble.
Missing Person: What was Drae doing that was giving you trouble?
Imstilldadaddy: He was doing a lot of light command grabs from a distance, and he was closing space very aggressively. I had to adapt and use more normals against him. I don’t really like to use them against Laura.
Missing Person: You have a lot of things happening lately. You recently joined Invictus. What’s next for you?
Imstilldadaddy: Well, we have the Gfinity series returning at the beginning of October. We placed third last year, we got pretty unlucky with that. But it should be fun. A lot of teams got new players this season, so it’ll be interesting.
Missing Person: With the Gfinity series, how do you feel it’s shaping the way the public in the United Kingdom thinks about esports?
Imstilldadaddy: I think it’s incredible. We’ve never had anything like this before. It’s sort of how Northern Arena was set up here. It’s been good in getting a lot of other players to shine through. There are more people picking up the games now. They’re signing more players to this. The players are getting stronger.
Missing Person: I also noticed that they host online qualifiers for players to get scouted through. Do you feel like this helps build up the scene within Europe?
Imstilldadaddy: Absolutely. I see more players coming up already because of this. It’s definitely a good thing.
Missing Person: We’re definitely seeing more corporate entities entering the FGC. It’s starting to happen in England as well as Canada. Do you feel like this is the way we should be heading?
Imstilldadaddy: I 100% believe we’re heading in the right direction.
Missing Person: Do you feel like there’s any shift between playing in grassroots events versus playing in these larger production events?
Imstilldadaddy: Things like Northern Arena are definitely more professional. There’s definitely a change, but it’s more well-organized with things like this. I actually prefer it this way, where it’s more professional.
Missing Person: One thing that’s went viral as of late is your biographical video, where you discuss your past time in jail. Do you feel like this has helped you reach out to people going through the same struggles?
Imstilldadaddy: Yes, actually. People have been reaching out to me — a lot of parents actually — about how I’m a good role model. I feel like if gaming had evolved like this many years ago, it’s possible I wouldn’t have gone down the path I did. Gaming did change my life. I’ve been able to travel and meet nice people like you, and it’s amazing that I’m sitting here now.
The documentary was kind of small, but the main message was there. I want to help people to use gaming to stay away from other activities that would get them into trouble. Gaming is a good way to prevent things like what I went through.
Missing Person: That’s definitely something I’ve noticed about gaming — especially fighting games — is your background is less important than your passion for it.
Imstilldadaddy: Exactly. Everyone comes together, and it’s a worldwide thing now. I stream and I have people I talk to from all over the world through it. Everyone is equal in life; that’s how I see it. With gaming, people forget about the world and all of its barriers and come together. You find that people can come together on the same sort of level and relate to the same sort of things.
Missing Person: I actually want to touch back on Evo, because at the end of Round 2 pools, you had a tough match against Snake Eyez to get out. What was going through your mind in that match?
Imstilldadaddy: I feel like Zangief vs. Guile at a high level can be an even match-up, but I was expecting him to pick Akuma. I was more prepared for that. I do think Akuma beats Guile, but if he picked Akuma, I was more comfortable at that moment. But instead, he chose Zangief, and I beat him in the first game easily. I think he actually thought about changing, but opted to stick with Zangief. He brought it back in game 2. At the end, he had me backed into the corner, and I had sort of a lucky jump, sort of a good read. He did a command grab, and I won. If I had stood still, he would’ve won the game.
I had to face him in losers as well. I did have trouble against a Karin player I was unfamiliar with. But it was good to beat him.
Missing Person: I was watching prior to Northern Arena, and you were labbing it up with a lot of different characters. Are there any characters that you’re looking at for pocket characters?
Imstilldadaddy: I’ve been using the DLC characters a bit as they’ve came out. I do play other characters, and I mainly use Guile because of loyalty. Guile is good, but he does have some tough match-ups. As I sit today, I’m a bit stubborn. I’ve stuck with Laura as a pocket because she was my first main in this game. She still does well against some match-ups like Balrog. I think I’m going to go back and play her a bit more because I was rusty with her. I also use Ed a lot. I use him for Dhalsim.
As I’ve been labbing up a lot of characters, I’ve been playing Guile a bit less. Now that I’m playing him more again, I’ve seen myself doing better. In Gfinity, I’ve had to face a lot of tough players. As the team captain, I planned it so I would have to play the harder matches. But ultimately my statistics were bad. It’s hard to take the stats seriously, since it is first to one. But this season, I don’t want to be caught with unfamiliarity, so I’ve been training harder because we want to win it.
I know I won’t make it to Capcom Cup this year, but there’s still money to be had on the circuit, so I do still plan to travel and play hard. All of this has made me want to train a lot harder.
Missing Person: You, along with many other European players, have shown the strength of the continent lately. How do you feel this season has changed the competitive landscape?
Imstilldadaddy: Well, first thing to note is that Phenom’s been in the US a lot. When I’ve seen him play, he’s really improved. The balance has definitely shifted between Street Fighter V and Street Fighter IV. You can’t really make as many mistakes as you could before. This has made the game more even-ish. Now that I’ve played this game more, I actually do prefer it more than the old one. I can’t go back to Street Fighter IV now. I feel like the developers did get it right, with more people being able to compete. There’s a lot more 3-2 matches now. It can be one guess situation that will cause you to lose, and reading is something you have to be comfortable with. In Street Fighter IV, you could dominate players more and do it more consistently if you were a good player. In this game, it focuses more on hard reads. You have to be more wise with the choices you make.