Breaking down the barriers to entry for the Taiwanese FGC.
A long-time veteran in the fighting game community, Cygames Beast’s Bruce “GamerBee” Hsiang has been taking names and placing highly in fighting game competitions since he made his big top eight debut at Evolution 2010.
Even though he wasn’t able to qualify for Capcom Cup this year (finishing at 35th place in the global rankings), GamerBee will always be an established player to look out for in the brackets at any Street Fighter event he attends around the world.
I sat down with GamerBee the day before Evolution 2019 to discuss in length about various topics regarding Street Fighter V, the Capcom Pro Tour, and even reminisce a little about the Street Fighter IV days.
He also talks about his SFV character choices as well as his expanding his role as a member of the fighting game community by helping to organize tournaments and hopefully revitalize the scene in his homeland of Taiwan.
Marcos Blanco: It is great to be able to meet with you, I have been following your career since your first Evo in 2010.
What is your current view on Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition and the Capcom Pro Tour in general?
GamerBee: I think that Season 4 is a lot more solid. It doesn’t feel as unpredictable as it was before. I feel that the Capcom Pro Tour is the best event in the fighting game industry. I really enjoy the way the CPT is handled right now. Even though it’s very difficult, it provides great opportunities for the FGC as a whole.
MB: Is there anything you think that can be improved about it?
GamerBee: Every individual player should be equal to enter a tournament, that is why there is a tournament every week or every month for the whole world. I don’t know if there is any better way to the point system, but it is giving an advantage to certain regions or to those with sponsors because you must enter a lot of tournaments to get enough points.
If you are just a non-pro player without a sponsor it’s difficult to qualify. Also compared to Europe or Asia, there are more tournaments in North America, so that is also a kind of advantage that those players have.
MB: How do you feel about your performance with Cammy so far in the CPT now that we are about halfway through the event? I know you use Necalli sometimes too. We know Cammy was weakened a little bit this season but that didn’t make you switch to another character like some other players have.
GamerBee: A lot of people are dropping Cammy. I try really hard to improve my skills to prove that I can make her effective in a different way. I am struggling right now because she has a tough time with top tier characters. To be honest, right now it’s hard. That being said, whenever she isn’t going up against a top tier character though, she is really strong.
I am thinking after Evo, if there is a balance change, I will study it, see if I should keep her as a main, or if I should change her out for another character.
MB: That leads me to my next question, with the three characters that were just announced. E. Honda, Poison, Lucia, based on the trailers what are your thoughts about them? What are your initial impressions?
GamerBee: I am actually very interested in these characters. First Lucia, then Honda. I want to try all three characters and I hope to find a character that has a lot of speed and can apply a lot of good pressure.
MB: Just from the trailer alone, it looks like Lucia might be that character, she seems very offensively focused!
GamerBee: Oh really? I will have to look more into her trailer!
MB: Were you surprised by Honda?
GamerBee: No! Of course not! We were all expecting Honda. (laughs)
MB: Did you know much about Lucia before her reveal trailer was released?
GamerBee: At first, I thought she was Cody’s girlfriend. He went to save his girlfriend in Final Fight, right?
MB: That was actually Jessica! Lucia is from Final Fight 3, she was a character from one of the console only sequels to Final Fight.
GamerBee: Oh! That’s why I didn’t know who she was!
MB: Right! I thought she was familiar at first. And then I remembered and thought, “Ah! That’s where she is from!”
GamerBee: It makes you wonder why they would choose such an obscure character and not someone everyone knows like Captain Commando. They could have even used Lieutenant Linn Kurosawa from the Capcom Alien vs Predator arcade game. I would be happy to see her in future DLC.
MB: That would have been awesome! We can still hold out hope for a couple of extra characters by the end of the year maybe!
Back to Necalli, when you use him, do you use him against certain players or certain characters that Cammy has issues with?
GamerBee: Yes. I am thinking of using Necalli against certain characters like Birdie, Zeku, or maybe Dictator. Cammy got nerfed with the V-Reversal. So when I’m in a corner and I have trouble getting out, with my V-Reversal I still take damage.
In those situations, Necalli has better health and better stun, so I have a greater opportunity to come back. Cammy might just die too fast, unfortunately.
MB: Yeah, she can be a little fragile. Are there any other characters you are interested in switching to?
GamerBee: If there is no balance change after Evo, I will probably switch to Karin. She is really easy to deal damage with. Compared to Ibuki, Akuma, or Rashid, Karin will be the easiest character to get a lot of results quickly. I think everyone is thinking the same thing.
MB: It’s definitely important to see what strategy is working for other players. Now let’s talk about Street Fighter IV!
You made your name with Adon. You basically maxed out that character’s potential when you used him when Street Fighter IV was in its prime. If Adon ever comes to SFV or a future title, what do you think he would play like or how would you want him to play?
GamerBee: I played him in SFIV because his air juggle kick gave me a lot of freedom. It made me feel that if I can master that move, I could do pressure offense at any time.
That’s also why I like to play Cammy. It isn’t easy to deal with her Dive Kick. Every block will be up plus, I like characters like that. If Adon comes out, I wish they could make it to where some moves are really hard to master, but if you can pull them off consistently, you will be rewarded well for it.
MB: I’d love to see you play Adon again. When I played you at Evo years ago, I’m sure you don’t remember, but you were my first round out of pools in the quarter-finals, and you robbed me in that first round! (laughs)
I was so close and then you came back and took the win! I was using Vega and that’s a really tough matchup.
GamerBee: Oh, that’s definitely not easy for Vega.
MB: What was your first Evo like by the way?
GamerBee: I played fighting games for 25 years and I never had the same experience in Asia. I never saw as many people in the audience watching a fighting game competition as when I qualified for the Top 8 in Evo.
I have to thank Shoryuken and Evo for this opportunity too. That is how I got sponsored by AVerMedia, my first sponsor. It gives me a lot of exposure too. Without this platform, I wouldn’t have a chance of making it big in my local tournaments.
All those experiences led me to organize my own community tournament.
MB: How has it been organizing the Taiwan Major?
GamerBee: I didn’t do it this year, but I had been organizing that tournament for about five or six years. It is growing extraordinarily well.
Ordinarily, every game’s community is separate. But the FGC is different because we can be together. There is no, “You play your game and I will play my game.” That’s something I learned from Evo.
I want to bring that same feeling to Taiwan. All of the players from different titles come together and share the hype and feed into different games. They learn their strategies and implement them into their own style of play.
And so far, it has been working tremendously. Every year, the Taiwan Major gets bigger and bigger. We get more viewers and more participants. It is a really wonderful feeling knowing I contributed to that.
MB: Is it tough to balance being a TO and a competitor?
GamerBee: It is super hard, that’s why I could not do it this year. It is too distracting and takes so much effort when you are trying to do both at the same time. Especially if you want it to grow every year. It drains a lot of time and energy if you want to do both, so I couldn’t this year.
You only have 24 hours in a day to allocate to everything and I would rather give 100% to one thing than 50% to two.
MB: Right, there’s only so much you can do in a day and it seems like you are doing everything you can!
What’s your mentality going into Evo 2019? What’s your gameplan? Who do you think is the biggest obstacle for you?
GamerBee: There are so many players and it is so random. I don’t worry about specific players because there is no knowing who you will face. I always focus on making myself the best I can be.
I try to focus, get enough sleep, and get enough training in between my matches. That’s what I do every Evo. This time there are even more competitors. I try my best to not get nervous. I am looking forward to seeing who will make it into the Top 8!
MB: Certainly! Its Evo, so anything can happen! For you personally, who do you think is your gatekeeper? It can be a character, not just a player.
GamerBee: I’d have to say my biggest issue is with Dictator, that’s why I am considering using Necalli in that matchup. I can perform better pressure on him. Cammy’s low jab is +0 on block now, and the dive kick is not as powerful as it used to be, so it is hard to put pressure on Dictator, you lose too much health. With Necalli on the other hand, every knockdown you have a chance to come back, even when you’re down to your last bit of health.
MB: When I played Vega in that matchup, it was a nightmare! He puts me in the corner, and there’s not much I can do.
What are your feelings about Street Fighter V overall?
GamerBee: I like the opportunities that Street Fighter V offers. More players have a chance to participate with the fight money and the Capcom Pro Tour, but the game design is a little rough from a Street Fighter IV player’s perspective.
In Street Fighter IV, your hard work pays off. You can practice and the matchups weren’t as important. But in Street Fighter V, you can get a bad matchup, or people do crazy things, and you just lose and there’s not much you can do.
That being said, some of these balances make sense for the viewers. If they don’t do updates for a while, it gets boring for the viewers, so these consistent updates keep people entertained.
MB: I feel like right now we are at peak Street Fighter V with Season 4. People are starting to max out these characters and we are starting to see a lot of the same characters in tournaments.
You don’t see a lot of Vega out there, he seems like a very offensive character but his defense leaves a bit to be desired.
GamerBee: Vega used to be a zoning character, but he doesn’t do enough damage that way in this game. You have to get in closer to your opponent to do any real damage.
MB: Right, you have to make some characters work in different ways than you are used to.
Outside of fighting games, what is the day in the life of Bruce like?
GamerBee: I do a lot of streaming. I work a ton with Twitch. I enjoy talking to my audience while I am streaming and I share a lot of things like IRL streaming. I like to stream when I am traveling and experiencing life.
MB: What is the scene like in Taiwan?
GamerBee: Every year we continue to grow and get more talented players. We do a lot of really good streaming in Taiwan and more people are noticing that the fighting game community is a lot of fun to join. We have a lot of players, but not enough new players.
Right now, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore don’t have a lot of young, strong players. America has Punk, Europe has Takamura, AngryBird, BigBird, and even Japan has new young players. We don’t have that same experience right now.
MB: Why do you think that is?
GamerBee: We can’t promise that the younger generation will have enough of a future in fighting games. Other games have more of a sponsorship opportunity. If you play fighting games, in five years you can get what you want, but if you really want to live off the game you play, you might have to play something else.
I am a little nervous about it. Because they have to make a sacrifice to join fighting games. I have been playing them for so long, since before there was such a thing as a pro gamer. I got lucky and got sponsored in Taiwan. Before that, I had never dreamt of becoming a pro player. It was just my passion, and I had a regular job.
I can’t give them training to become a successful fighting gamer. I can’t promise them that they can make it. I can tell them, if they want to get into competitive fighting games, I will support them, but it will be very hard.
MB: You’ve been playing for quite a while, right? Are there any other games you like to play?
GamerBee: Yeah! I have been playing fighting games since I was nine. I played so many fighting games growing up. I played every fighting game I could.
When I was young, like ten or twelve, I played a lot of action games. Then when I got older, I played RPGs. After that, I played a lot of AVG. After that, I started playing online games like Ultima Online or Warcraft. But besides that, at every age, I have always played fighting games. Half of the games I would play would be fighting games and the other half changed over the years.
MB: Anything you want your fans to know about you that they don’t know about you?
GamerBee: I want to create some new online content in the future, like something new on YouTube or more IRL streaming for traveling I have been doing. I would really like to make it happen.
I want to thank my sponsors, Cygames and AVerMedia so I can continue my professional fighting game career, and also thank my wife. She has been incredibly supportive. She’s been helping me with Taiwan Major too! I am a lucky man!
Sources: Capcom Fighters