Combo Breaker 2018 had many spectacular moments. The event is truly garnering international attention, as we’re seeing more and more players from Canada, Japan, and even Korea attending the St. Charles, IL tournament. Among them is an incredibly talented Guilty Gear player from Korea.
Shoryuken took the opportunity to interview Daru for the first time shortly after his victory in the Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 tournament, after an emotional set with Teresa in the grand finals. Although Daru is Korean, he tied his fighting game craft to Japan and went toe-to-toe at Mikado, the premiere arcade of the competitive elite, and garnered the respect and attention of Ogawa. He also made effort to popularize his favorite game in Korea and gained the appreciation of the international fighting game scene as evidenced by his r/Kappa sponsorships.
Big thanks to BjornSonOfBear for providing Korean translation for the following interview.
Woocash: Congratulations! What did you think of playing against Hamad and Teresa?
Daru: I did play a lot against Hamad at Anime Ascension, and I feel that out of people like UYU|Kizzie Kay, KidViper, and Hamad, Hamad definitely has been investing the most into Guilty Gear. I think he’s come really far even in the space of a single month.
I don’t really lose to Teresa much at Mikado; Teresa is sort of infamous for choking pretty hard in tournaments. But today, Teresa was playing really well, not just in tournament, but in general. It was very unfortunate about what happened during grand finals [a stick malfunction].
Woocash: Guilty Gear isn’t really as big in Korea, how did you first become interested in the game?
Daru: [Laughs] I didn’t think about the popularity or anything. But back when Guilty Gear XX first came out, I-no was the boss character back then, and she was featured on the PS2 back cover. I saw her on the box art, and I was like, “I gotta play this character.”
Woocash: How did your play progress? Did you move to Japan mostly for games or was it other reasons?
Daru: In 2009, I took a sabbatical for a year, and I went to Japan, not just to play Guilty Gear, but that was a significant reason. Afterward, I received a job offer at a trade company that works with Japan, so I started to work in the country. I don’t work there anymore, but I still take the time to come over to Japan to practice there.
Woocash: When you want back to Korea, you started to build a Guilty Gear scene there, tell us about that.
Daru: There’s a monthly event in Korea, obviously since Korea is not that big of a country, a monthly event is sort of like a “national.” There’s one every month, and I try to make it out there every time I can. Outside of that, I write guides to help beginners. I also take chances like this [coming to Combo Breaker] to make Koreans realize that there’s a game called Guilty Gear. That Koreans are good at it. It’s not just Street Fighter, or their favored Tekken. There’s also this game.
Woocash: I’m curious about your thoughts on the state of the game and game balance.
Daru: Although, of course, there are definitely S tiers and C tier characters in this game, I feel that the state of the game is such that anyone can win, even though it may be harder for some. As for I-no, I’ve been playing the game for 15 years, since #Reload, and I think that her current version is the strongest she’s ever been.
Woocash: I’m curious about ArcRevo; how did you become teammates with Ogawa?
Daru: In the months before ArcRevo, there was KSB in May. Right after KSB, people head over to the arcade because there were no setups at the venue. We went to the arcade in Osaka called Hills. Ogawa first came to me, and said, “the next time we do a 3v3, let’s make a team.” I said yes, and ArcRevo was announced sometime in May/June, Ogawa sent me a message.
Woocash: Is that because Ogawa saw you as a very strong player?
Daru: Ogawa thought that I am the strongest of all the foreign players, and he thought it was about time that a foreign player rose to the very top and won a tournament. And he said, if that’s going to happen, I want that player with me.
Woocash: Any other comments you’d like to make to viewers or our readers?
Daru: Right now, I noticed that there’s a bit of drama about perceived game balance, in the international scene even. As a result, the momentum might have fallen off a bit. Considering though that Guilty Gear is still an Evo main event, it would be great if you guys would still take an interest in the game and keep playing it.
Don’t forget to check out our Combo Breaker 2018 results page for more information about the event.