If you’ve been keeping up with Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition and the Capcom Pro Tour as of late, you’ve probably noticed that there has been one character in particular that hasn’t been placing too high at majors this season. Which character do you ask? I’m talking about my own main character since season one of SFV: Vega.
Back in the first two seasons of SFV, there were quite a few prominent players with the masked matador, such as ROM, Nemo, Jibrill, and Reiketsu. Ever since Vega was questionably weakened in season three of SFVAE, it seems these players have moved on to other characters for better results. The only notable players that have stuck with him and placed high this year are M. Lizard/Tourniquet from South Korea, and the subject of this interview, SonicBoxx’s Bruno La Grotta, a.k.a. “DoomSnake507.”
Hailing from Panama City, Panama, DoomSnake507 first made his name in SFV by being one of the highest-ranking Vega players on CFN. He then started to travel to and compete at Latin America CPT Ranking tournaments in 2017, usually placing top three or higher — with his most notable accomplishment being first place at The Fight 2017 in Bogota, Columbia against the future Capcom Cup 2017 champion, Rise Nation’s MenaRD.
Currently ranked 71st on the Global CPT Ranking and ninth on the Latin America CPT Ranking as of this writing, DoomSnake507 — who happens to run a family business that has been making windows, doors, and aluminum construction supplies for over 38 years — has proven that he can take a character who’s considered by most players to not be competitively viable and be successful both online and offline. I recently interviewed him by email to get to know a bit more about his competitive gaming origins, as well as his thoughts on Vega, SFVAE, and the Latin America CPT.
Responses edited for length and clarity.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: When was your first exposure to fighting games, and how have they impacted you? When and why did you decide you wanted to compete in Street Fighter V? Is it your first competitive game?
DoomSnake507: My first one was Street Fighter II since day one. That game and other Capcom games blew my mind. I miss the old days, not gonna lie, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy SFV. Well, this is not my first competitive game. My first ones were Marvel vs. Capcom and Capcom vs. SNK 2. I miss everything about that game! Then I stopped competing because of my career. Then a friend of mine was playing Street Fighter III and it was strange for me at first because of the cast, but I never had the time to play that game well. Too much studies and work. Then I started playing older and new games, but only casuals. Then Street Fighter IV came up. I was so hype for that game since the first trailers! The community in Panama became alive thanks to SFIV because it was pretty much dead since the old days when we used to play CvS2, so I was mad happy in that time! Thanks to SFIV I started traveling more and playing with more international pros so it was easy for me to enter in the ring with SFV.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: What’s the competitive fighting game scene in Panama like? Is there plenty of offline competition to train with?
DoomSnake507: The fighting game scene in Panama is very small, so there is not much offline competition or training here. That may be a disadvantage, but I never give up in anything that I do, so I put myself in strict training sessions online and offline of course. Thanks to online I learned the match-ups and then applied that in the offline scene so when I travel I always try to play a lot with pros and friends. That helps me a lot too so for me there is no excuse to get better you know.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: You have proven that playing online can produce results at offline majors. In your opinion, what are some of the pros and cons of playing online and offline? Also what was your first offline tournament and how did that impact you?
DoomSnake507: Well many besides me have proven that point. For example, NuckleDu and Punk. They were online warriors like me and when they decided to travel they proved their skills on both fronts. So the pros for online is match-up knowledge and for people that work and have kids like I do, it’s better because of the time, but I always recommend offline experience for sure.
The cons would be let me see… ah yes……lag! And for offline I only get pros because it is the way you should play always. Sometimes you can play excellent online, but offline is another story, and that happens because of the lack of experience with pressure in tournaments, and if you want people to take you serious in this industry or in whatever game you play you need to prove that in the ring you know. My first offline tournament was MvC in 1998. I was so hype and nervous at the same time because a friend signed me up without telling me! The prizes at that time was money and a PSone with six games. The deal was that if I won, he keeps the PSone because I already owned one, and well, I won. That impacted me so much. I made some good friends and when the rivalries began to appear in that moment, I realized that this is what I want to do.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: You play Vega, who most players consider to be bottom three — or possibly the worst character in the current season of SFVAE. What’s your opinion of your main character and character tiers in general? Do you think he fine the way he is? What improvements would you suggest for him to be more competitive with the rest of the cast? Also, why did you choose him in the first place?
DoomSnake507: I don’t consider him the worst character in the game. I do think that he has the worst V-Triggers in the game, though. The thing is that it’s not easy winning with him, and when I do it feels so good because there is no excuse, but he lacks very important tools like better anti-airs , no wake-up options , better V-Reversals, and much more, but he has good walk speed, pokes that are not the best ones but still good, and a command grab which is so important in this game [laughs]. I love Vega’s style in this game because he is not a charge character. In this season he’s missing so many things that I would liked to have fixed. For example, the LK Rolling Crystal Flash loop. Please, Capcom. He needs that back. Also the EX RCF in season one was so good. The standing fierce in claw stance needs more range, please. Better V-Triggers like having two uses for VTI and V-Trigger II. Only one parry? Seriously? Better anti-airs and of course the V-Skill in Season One was great. I don’t know what they where thinking nerfing it. The V-Skill needs to have more invincible startup frames and last but not least, the EX Flying Barcelona. They nerfed that too! Why? He needs his tools back! My top 10 characters is no surprise to anyone: Cammy, Akuma, Cammy, Guile, Cammy, Ibuki, Cammy, Menat, Cammy, and Cammy.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: You told me before this interview that you play Birdie as well. Have you considered maining him or another character entirely for more consistent results?
DoomSnake507: I always like Vega’s style, but I never used him in the past because he was a charge character. When I tried him in Season One I loved his speed and his moves. It’s very important that you really like the character, because for me it’s so boring picking up a top tier character just because they are strong, but you don’t even like or enjoy playing them you know. In Season One and Two, I was using Cammy in casuals only for fun because she’s got all the tools and is very easy to use. I was beating everyone, but I was not enjoying the game because for me she is so boring. But I respect people that use Cammy because I have known friends that have mained her since the old days, and that’s not their fault that the character is so strong. People that have known me since Season One my know that my first characters were Vega and Birdie. I dropped Birdie (at first) because I took most of the time to learn Vega and I felt more hype for him. Then the nerfs began to destroy my main character every time a new season was released and Guile enters. That was for me my worst match-up besides Mika and others. In Season Three I tried to look for some counter picks for Guile and I saw my friend Mena beating the Guiles. Since I used to play Birdie in the past, I began to try him against Guiles. I know it’s still a hard match-up, but it’s much easier than playing with Vega. So for now I am using Birdie for three match-ups only and the rest with Vega for now.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: Your sponsor, SonicBoxx, has enabled you to travel and compete more than ever this year. What has this new experience been like for you? Which tournaments have been your favorites this year and why?
DoomSnake507: Thanks to SonicBoxx, this year I was able to travel a lot and get more experience than ever. I got no regrets since competing is the thing I love. You always need to do what you like the most to be happy with yourself and with the support of my family it’s way better. I always thanks God for this opportunity. My top events are Combo Breaker because of the amazing 24-hour venue. Game Over in the Dominican Republic because the production was so amazing. I need to go next year again. Evo for sure with all the amazing players, and it’s the hardest and the most important tournament for me. Also First Attack. I really enjoyed Puerto Rico and the energy there. It’s such a blast!
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: What do you think of the current state of SFV? Do you think it’s heading in the right direction at this point in terms of character balance? Also, what is your opinion of the Capcom Pro Tour’s ranking points system? Do you feel like it’s harder to earn points to qualify for Capcom Cup compared to previous years? Do you feel CPT events in Latin America and other regions should distribute more points to the players who place high? Why or why not?
DoomSnake507: I don’t like the current state of SFV because the online experience is still not great. The servers are awful and I think they’re buffing and nerfing characters randomly. Sometimes I don’t know what Capcom is thinking. I know that it’s not an easy task, but instead of nerfing they should buff the weak characters. All Street Fighter games have trouble with balance. I’ve known that since my old school days, but in this game you don’t have many defensive options. Since Season Three started, the balance for me is ridiculously bad. Some characters here have strong comeback factor thanks to V-Triggers, such as Akuma’s and Ibuki’s. You can play the whole match almost perfectly and then they activate the V-Trigger, get one hit, and you are done.
I don’t like the ranking points system this year. They have been changing it since Season One, so we need to see more points in the future. It is harder to get points than last year because in my case there aren’t so many Premier events like in the USA, Europe, and Asia. For the Latin community it’s so unfair. The fact that Mena won Capcom Cup 2017, I think that Capcom should have given Latin America way more Premiers. We are a strong community with great players, but without any support we don’t have the chance to show that you know. I feel that we need more Premier events than ranking because it’s frustrating that some people travel so far for a ranking event, get one point for ninth place! Other thing that I don’t agree with is the online CPT events. If Capcom doesn’t have good servers, why do they waste their time doing that? Meanwhile so many players are saving money to travel and doing some type of sacrifice to get attend these events. Other people just wait for the online event in their houses, play laggy matches, and lose with teleport dashes or get disconnected like I do in the last online event. I think they need to change the format for the online event. For example, who ever wins the online CPT gets a flight for the next CPT event. Getting points with laggy matches is so unfair, and it’s anti-professional in my opinion.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: For new players wanting to travel and compete for the first time at a major, what kind of advice would you give them?
DoomSnake507: You need to believe in yourself first of all. Take advice, learn to listen, learn from your defeats, train a lot, and don’t panic or get frustrated when you are losing. That happens at the beginning of this road that you decide to take since your mind is adapting to a different scene. You need to get use to it and you should be fine in no time. I have been there too, but never quit cause many people wanna see you there if they start seeing you like a threat.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: Are there any other fighting games you are interested or have dabbled in? Any non-fighting games you play?
DoomSnake507: Right now I am focusing only on SFVAE. I don’t got much time because of work and my kids so I use the little time I have to train. I do play non-fighting games. My list can be eternal, but right now I’m playing God of War, some games on the 3DS in the long-hour flights most of the time and Nintendo Switch games as well. Shenmue is one of my favorite series and I finished both parts on the Sega Dreamcast. I enjoy playing it again and to show it to my son, too. I am also a huge fan of the Metal Gear Solid games. That’s why my handle ends with “Snake.” Waiting for Final Fantasy VII remake and Kingdom Hearts 3 and I also enjoy the Resident Evil games. I’m so happy for Resident Evil 2 remake! One of my hobbies since I was a kid was collecting everything that has to do with gaming, and I continue with that tradition.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: Which tournaments will you be attending for the rest of the year? What does the future hold for you beyond 2018 in your pro-gaming life, as well your life outside of it?
DoomSnake507: The rest of the year I will be attending all of the Latin America events in Chile, DR, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil for now. No US events until next year, but if I make good points in the rest of the events, I’ll see you at Capcom Cup 2018 then! I wanna enter so bad this year, so I am working hard for that.
Marcos “El Cubano Loco” Blanco: Anything else you want to say in this interview for people to get to know you better? Any special shout-out or thanks?
DoomSnake507: Thank you for this interview. Thanks to God for giving me this opportunity, and thanks to SonicBoxx for believing in me too. For the people who don’t know me I am a very easygoing person so you can talk to me anytime or ask me about anything. If you need any advice or support as long as I can I will give you a hand. Shout out to the community of Panama and all of my friends that I make thanks to my travels. Love you all and they know who they are. To my special family that always follows my steps in every event. Without them I am nothing. I love you so much. My two kids — they are everything to me. To my wife who supports me so much. Love you, babe, and shout-out to the worst player in Panama, Keeper507. He knows why I am saying that! And yes, I said worst [laughs].
If you want to know more about SonicBoxx’s Bruno “DoomSnake507” La Grotta, follow him on his Twitter page.