Sherry “Sherryjenix” Nhan has been a community figure since her entrance into fighting games in 2009. She quickly learned one of the most technical characters in any fighting game — Street Fighter IV‘s C. Viper — to the point where she was not just one of the strongest female players, a major tournament threat. Today, she remains a force to be reckoned with, often placing within the top 16 of major events.
While her tournament road ended early at Canada Cup 2017, I got a chance to sit down with her to discuss what her motivation for playing was, and what she thinks of Canada Cup — an event that she always makes it out for.
Corey “Missing Person” Lanier: How’s your tournament experience at Canada Cup so far?
Sherry “Sherryjenix” Nhan: Canada Cup is always an amazing tournament, so my experience here is always good. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it out of pools. I lost to Daigo, then had to face Commander Jesse in losers bracket, and lost there as well.
Missing Person: That Commander Jesse match is essentially a team kill though.
Sherryjenix: Every time we go to Wednesday Night Fights, I always seem to run into him or Dankadillas, and I hate Dhalsim.
Missing Person: You’re not the only Necalli who has mentioned Dhalsim as an Achilles Heel. With Necalli, is there any tool in particular that Dhalsim has that gives you trouble?
Sherryjenix: The thing is about Jesse is that he has strong offense. My offense is kind of linear, so it’s easy for him to be on the defense. The big thing is that his offense is really strong, so it’s hard for me. I have to worry about him going in on me and teleporting in and out. Jesse’s definitely one of the stronger Dhalsims.
Missing Person: I did catch one match against you and Italdan, one of Canada’s best players. Take me through that one.
Sherryjenix: I did lose the first game, he beat me pretty badly. But I realized he jumped at me a lot in the first game. He started the second round off with V-Skill. So I realized he liked to hold up forward. I stopped doing V-Skill to bait out the jumps. I anti-aired him to keep him grounded. On the ground game, I wasn’t too worried about it. It was mostly fireballs and fierces. I’d start jumping and he’d anti-air. But I wasn’t too worried about the mix-up. If I got the jump-in, I’d have the damage into the mix-up. I implemented that and it worked out pretty well.Missing Person: You’ve been to every Canada Cup since 2011. What is about this event that keeps you coming back every year?
Sherryjenix: Well, you know that the 5-on-5 is a Canada Cup specialty. It was so amazing even back in the day. It usually ends up as Team Japan versus Team USA, and Japan always bodied us. But it was always just a really good experience overall. There were always good salty suites here. Now there’s a 24-hour venue.
I also feel like because Lap Chi established the 5-on-5 international tournament, all the international players come out to this event. It’s not just Japan, you have Korea and Europe coming out as well. This is really hard to get at other majors. You always have the typical Japanese crew like Mago and Tokido, but you’ll only get a couple from other regions. Japan comes out full force here, and the same thing for Europe.
Missing Person: Have there been any upsets in this event for you?
Sherryjenix: As far as upsets go, Punk being in Losers in pools was a big deal. He lost to VastEnd, a Canadian Vega player. But I gave Punk the option select of having been focusing on Marvel. He hasn’t been playing Street Fighter that much, and he’s doing good in Marvel as well.
Outside of that, the results are pretty predictable. I already know it’s going to be a good show. Every pool was stacked and had multiple killers. This is going to be a good show, especially top 8.
Missing Person: While you’ve talked about this before, a lot of people still don’t know your story. How did you get into Street Fighter in the beginning?
Sherryjenix: It’s actually pretty random how it happened. I had never played fighting games before; Street Fighter IV was my first. I’m a true ‘09er. I literally started in June 2009. I was at Arcade Infinity in SoCal playing Initial D with my friends. There was a player there named Shglbmx — I knew him from the car scene, because originally I was in the import scene. He was there for Street Fighter IV ranbats. And I hadn’t seen him in a while. I went up to him and said, “What are you doing here, Dan Tam?” I didn’t even know his gamertag, so I just called him by name. And he mentioned that he was there for Street Fighter, and went on to say, “There’s a women’s-only tournament in two weeks. We’re supposed to find a girl to mentor, so would you like to be that player?”
I said, “Dude, I’ve never played a fighting game in my life. Are you sure you want me to play?” He told me, “It’s not that serious. It’s for fun, you should try it out.” I decided to take him up on that. I went out and bought the game and a TE Stick. I went 0-2 in the tournament. But because I met the FGC from that — players like Keno and Mike Ross — I went to Arcade Infinity every day from there. They convinced me to go to Evo the next month. I went 0-2 there, losing to two Bisons like I always do — I still lose to Bisons! I didn’t know who players like Combofiend were at the time. Combofiend was in top 8 with C. Viper, and I was impressed at how sick his Viper was. I didn’t even know who Daigo or Justin Wong was — and they were in Grand Finals. I knew they had to be really good because they were in Grand Finals. When Justin reset the bracket that year, he did that thing where he walked around the stage with his arms up, and everyone went nuts. I said, “Damn, I want to do that. I want to be that person who can get a whole country behind me.”
Since then, I’ve been traveling to tournaments nonstop, practicing for 8 years.
Missing Person: You started out initially with C. Viper. Even for intermediate players, she was a highly technical character. What made you start playing this character?
Sherryjenix: When Dan was training me, he showed me the character select screen and told me to choose someone and he would give me the basics of the character. I didn’t grow up playing games. I didn’t know who Ryu or Chun-Li was. If I had known, I might have gone the typical route of being a girl who chooses Chun-Li. I saw Viper and she had the red hair and the gloves on. I told him to show me her moveset. He showed me her flame kicks and thunder knuckles, and I knew this was my character.
He tried to discourage me from playing her, saying she was really technical. I said, “So? I want to try her.” I couldn’t do any combos. I’m talking about I couldn’t even do jump in roundhouse into crouching strong. It was just not something I was used to. When I first started, I was button mashing really hard. Once I saw Combofiend play, and he was doing all these sick things with her, and flame kicking across the screen, I decided to stick with her. Then later we had players like Wolfkrone, Latif, and Jayce the Ace providing inspiration for me. I would never change my character in that game.
Missing Person: In Street Fighter V, Necalli kind of fits with his V-Skill, but do you find yourself missing the frenetic energy of Viper?
Sherryjenix: I miss her so much. I honestly struggled a lot when Street Fighter V came out. I’m so used to Viper. It was non-stop pressure with Viper. I still did frame traps with her, but it was still constant pressure. And now shimmies are a thing, where if I wanted to bait throws in Street Fighter IV, I would just flame kick. It was a really big adjustment, especially with the lack of super jumps. When I play against Guile and Dhalsims now, I wish I had that. I never had to worry about them in SFIV, because I could just super jump through their walls.
But to be honest, playing a character like Necalli has taught me more discipline because I didn’t have an easy way in. Now I have to block like everyone else did in SFIV. I also had to learn actual mix-ups outside of Seismos and flame kicks. I had to learn how to shimmy. I had to learn how to frame trap. I had to learn how to delay my normals. That’s not something I had to learn in SFIV.
As much as people hate Street Fighter V, it has taught me a lot as a player.
Missing Person: You did mention earlier that you got into the scene via a female event. Do you feel like this is an avenue that tournament organizers aren’t utilizing to get female players into the scene?
Sherryjenix: I am a big supporter of all-girl tournaments. It meets a lot of debate and controversy. People just don’t like the idea. I always try to talk to people about it, and show myself as an example.
I actually had a debate about this with Brenttiscool a couple of days ago. We were talking about it in the lobby of Canada Cup. He just couldn’t understand the concept of an all-girl tournament. He said, “You want to be a part of the community, but you want to be segregated.” Those are totally valid points. A lot of people have the same concern. For me, it was a stepping-stone. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to enter co-ed tournaments. It’s just that someone reached out to me to enter the all-girl tournament first. I don’t see it as an exclusive group of girls that you can’t join. To me, it’s creating an environment where women are inclined to play. Some girls just like playing with other girls. It’s not a sexist thing.
Another thing Brentt stated was that it was just a newbie tournament. That’s not necessarily true. It’s not a low-level tournament. It’s kind of like a girl’s night out or a slumber party. You invite the girls over, and more girls are inclined to join. If a woman sees something a group of girls are doing, they want to join in. It has nothing to do with thinking they’re not good enough to play in the mixed events. We’re just creating a more welcoming environment to bring out more girls.
Missing Person: It’s more or less something to entice them into playing more seriously.
Sherryjenix: Exactly. There were 48 entrants in the Evo Women’s Only tournament in 2010. I know damn well there aren’t 48 girls at other tournaments. Usually it was just myself and BurnYourBra. When I saw that there were so many entrants regardless of the skill level — skill level is not the point, we’re not out here trying to say that someone is the best girl — it brings me back to my point of bringing out more female competitors.
Missing Person: As one of the premiere female competitors, how do you view your role in promoting more women to get into playing?
Sherryjenix: To be honest, I’m not very active about it. I’ll speak out about it when people ask me. A lot of girls do come up to me and ask, “How do you deal with the situations you’re put in? I want to play sometimes but I’m scared.” I have no problem talking to them or training with them. I kind of let other people handle this more, like Carolyn “MamaDao” Dao. She’s one of the more outspoken women about it. That’s why she started the whole Combo Queens thing. It is the equivalent of Smash Sisters for the FGC. I think she is the perfect person to run the group.
That’s the same thing with Samantha “Persia” Hancock. She’s a great role model for women. She’s a good Marvel player, but not only that, she’s a great commentator. Her face is always out there with commentary. Women like them have these great roles in the community where they’re not just players. I feel like I’m just a player. If you want to train with me or get some Necalli tips, I’ll help you out. But if you want to talk about TOing or dealing with certain situations, I feel like there are multiple ambassadors you can talk to.
Missing Person: Do you feel like you’ve ever been discriminated against in tournaments, even if it was just some guy getting salty for losing to a girl?
Sherryjenix: It happens all the time. It actually makes me really happy. I love making people salty. Because we’re also in a new generation of players, the dynamic changed. In Street Fighter IV, I had played that for eight years, so in the latter years of the game, no one was salty losing to me because they lost to a girl. Everyone just recognized me as a strong player.
But now, with a new generation of players, it’s reverted back to that. I was playing against a Ryu player at Combo Breaker in casuals, and this guy was laughing at me the entire time he was playing against me. I didn’t understand why he was laughing. His friend was sitting across from him and actually asked him. And he says, “Oh my God, she actually knows how to play.” At that moment, it just flipped a switch in my head where I had to show him what’s up. “Because you said that, I’m going to have to perfect you.” I’m so adjusted to it that I’m not offended by it anymore. I just instead have to show them what’s up and educate them on what I can do in this game.
Missing Person: What’s your best story about making someone salty?
Sherryjenix: I have actually been looking for this one guy here at Canada Cup. Last year he was here, and he was playing Season 1 R. Mika against me. If anything, I should be salty. It was just casuals, and I believe it was a First-to-5. I was playing really disrespectful, and he got really upset. One of my friends actually stepped in and actually said, “I’ve been waiting for a while. Can I get in?” And the guy got up, and he mumbled something under his breath along the lines of, “Oh, she’s just salty that I bodied her in SFIV.” I have no idea who he is at this point, by the way. So I literally say, “I’m sorry man, I don’t know who you are.” And he says, “Uh huh, sure you don’t.” I told him we could go play Street Fighter IV right now if he wanted, and he just walked away mumbling. For me, these are the moments that I live for. [laughs]
Missing Person: [laughs] Those are the moments we all live for. If you’re under their skin, you’ve already won.
Sherryjenix: Exactly. But I do feel like I get that more often than other players simply because guys don’t like losing to a girl.
Missing Person: Any shout-outs you’d like to give?
Sherryjenix: Shout-outs to Justin. Canada Cup was actually my birthday weekend, so he took me out to Brazilian barbecue. I also want to shout-out Yipes. He didn’t make it out but I know he’s watching back home. Also shout-outs to all my friends like Floe, they message me all the times asking how I did in pools or helping me lab up after losses. Those friends are the ones that carry me through all the ups and downs in this community.
In my position, I’m not just a player, but I’m also friends with a lot of people. Because of that I get into a lot of drama. But my friends have been with me through it all since 2009. Shout-outs to everyone who has been there for me.