CYG Interview Series Part One: PR Balrog discusses the current state of SFV: Arcade Edition, the Capcom Pro Tour, Mortal Kombat 11, and more

By on September 13, 2019 at 8:00 am
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The Cygames Beast crew opens up at Evo 2019

Cygames‘ Eduardo Perez-Frangie a.k.a. “PR Balrog” has been taking names in various titles throughout his prolific fighting game career. Hailing from Puerto Rico, PR Balrog had been playing fighting games for many years in his native homeland. The world truly got to know Eduardo when he placed 5th in Street Fighter IV at Evo 2009 in its debut tournament.

He’s been a household name with numerous high placings and major tournament victories not only in SFIV, but in various fighting games like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Killer Instinct (Xbox One), Injustice: Gods Among Us, Mortal Kombat 9, and Super Turbo. Eduardo is currently competing in Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat 11.

I sat down with Eduardo the day before Evo 2019 to talk about the current state of SFV and the Capcom Pro Tour and their future. We also discussed his focused mindset and game plan going into Evo 2019 as well as other fighting game-related subjects.


Marcos Blanco: You’ve been mainly a Street Fighter player since before Street Fighter IV. What is your current view on competitive SFV and the CPT in 2019?

PR Balrog: My general view is that everything is growing. I’m happy to see that. I feel they should change the structure, but the thing is it’s so hard because it’s an open bracket. I’m not sure how they can change everything. Normal tournaments that have points–if you don’t get top two, you don’t get that many points.

Overall I’m happy that the scene is growing, but it still has room to grow even bigger.

MB: I’ve been hearing that some tournaments overseas have been doing round-robin tournaments.

PR Balrog: To be honest Europe has always done round-robin in their pools. Which is pretty cool because you get to play everyone in your pool.

That is actually how StarCraft used to do it and I think it’s one of the best ways. I think it’s just one of those things that you just have to do trial and error, but they just don’t seem to want to change their format.

MB: Do you think it might be too big of a risk financially or maybe it’s time-consuming just setting it up?

PR Balrog: Maybe it’s time-consuming. I don’t think it’s monetarily different because it’s the same tournament and Europe has been doing it way too long. They’ve never had a problem.

MB: What did you think of the three characters that were leaked and then announced? What were your initial impressions of E. Honda, Poison, and Lucia just based on the trailers?

PR Balrog: I did like Honda. I played Honda for a bit in Street Fighter IV and I used him at Evo 2009. I’m not going to say he looks cool. I’m not going to say that he looks like a good or bad character because every time that I say that and I touch the character I’m like ‘Oh, man!’ (laughs)

I did not know who the heck Lucia was. She looks like Ken so I’m probably not going to use her. I do like her fireball. It looks like K’s fireball from King of Fighters. I’ve never been a Poison fan. She looks cool, but not my cup of tea.

MB: There’s a lot of mixed reactions to the characters being leaked. Do you think that was all they were going to show?

PR Balrog: I think they’re going to announce two more characters.

MB: Before or after Capcom Cup 2019?

PR Balrog: It has to be before. Either way, I still think that this year we’re going to hear about a new game. Street Fighter VI or Street Fighter whatever they want to call it, but I think we’re going to hear that at Capcom Cup and we’re also going to hear about new characters for the next season. I think we have one or two more years left of this game.

MB: I know you’ve been very vocal about issues with Street Fighter V on social media.

PR Balrog: >: I’ve always said that a game developer should listen to the community’s voice to make the game better…I’m just playing my part as a community member and expressing my concern to make it better.

I do like playing Street Fighter V, but to me even though the same people who keep being good at it and getting top eight, the game is still random to me. Nobody is going to change my mind.

MB: So then what would you like to see in Street Fighter VI?

PR Balrog: Something more creative. I would like more combos and stuff like that. I grew up in an era where execution was really important. They took that out from us. Every combo is simple now. I would rather have a combo system.

FADC was awesome just because of that. In general, I don’t think Focus Attack was a good mechanic, but in a way it was good because it let you create new combos. If custom combos come back that would be cool, too.

There’s a lot of things that they can do. I would like at least some execution. It doesn’t have to be execution so heavy that people don’t want to play. Something creative and combos, please (laughs). I wish that you can also react to throws. Have a very small window, but you can react to it.

MB: You’ve played past Mortal Kombat titles and now you’re playing Mortal Kombat 11. What are your thoughts on it?

PR Balrog: Overall it’s pretty good. I think it has way too many comeback mechanics that I can’t handle. That’s another thing that I am a little unhappy about with new games out there now. Every single fighting game has like at least three comeback mechanics.

They need to lower that.

What’s the point of being a pro gamer if you can literally lose to anybody? It’s avoidable most of the time, but I think Mortal Kombat 11 needs to at least fix their Krushing Blows.

It seems like a lot of times I don’t know when they’re coming or not. (laughs)

MB: You think they do too much damage at times?

PR Balrog: No I mean it’s ok if they do a lot of damage, but just there should be a cue saying “Krushing Blow” or something.

MB: Who’s in your bracket for Mortal Kombat 11 at Evo 2019?

PR Balrog: I do not know. I don’t check brackets. I’m old school with that type of stuff. Whoever comes, whoever I beat, whoever beats me, and that is all. It’s Evo, right? It’s a huge bracket for every game. So to me, there could be upsets on each side.

At an invitational, I will practice specifically for players, but at a big event like this, I don’t think there’s a point.

MB: In my eyes, you’ve always been a read-heavy based player. Do you think sometimes that can be detrimental to your overall game plan or mentality?

PR Balrog: Oh, yeah. In the new games, that’s bad. Just like I said before, there are so many comeback mechanics and there’s only so many reads that a person can make. I’m going to be wrong. (laughs)

MB: You play Akuma almost exclusively now in SFV, but a lot of people like you for your Balrog/Boxer. How do you consider Balrog in SFV now? He has issues for sure, but if you were to pick up Balrog again for SFV, or even Street Fighter VI. How would you want him to be a contender again?

PR Balrog: Give him a reversal, please! Why do you take a reversal off of a character?!.

MB: How serious are you about competitive Street Fighter V currently?

PR Balrog: Well I always try my best. I do practice. I do play at home with my homies, Rom and Keith. We invite people, play together and have a good time.

Akuma is a character where if you get hit twice you die. You make one mistake and it can be your tournament life. This is how I see myself: I can make top eight and win a tournament.

MB: Going into Evo 2019, if you don’t win, who else do you see winning or making it far?

PR Balrog: I want Punk to win. He would be the first American to win Street Fighter in a long time. This is the top eight that I see: Punk, Tokido, Fuudo…I want to say Daigo, but he always gets ninth at Evo (laughs).

I think he’s gotten ninth in the last six or seven years. I want Bonchan to make it. He’s always been good. That guy is my demon and will always be. Who else do I want to see….?

MB: Maybe Fujimura?

PR Balrog: No, I’m tired of Fujimura. (laughs) He gets top eight every time! He’s an awesome guy, but stay away man! (laughs)

MB: Any Rashid players?

PR Balrog: If there’s one Rashid I want to see it would be Big Bird. I like that guy. He’s good, he’s young, and he can play. Also his training partner, AngryBird and Infexious. Once he got sponsored he’s been on fire. It’s very hard to stop the momentum.

MB: Throughout your career as a pro gamer, what are some of the biggest hurdles that you’ve had to overcome? What do you consider your strengths and how did you improve on them?

PR Balrog: I think I’m very charismatic, aggressive, and spontaneous in games. I like that type of style because I used to watch Combofiend. He was always very explosive. That type of style makes me happy. I think my strength is my explosive and spontaneous playstyle, but I feel like nowadays that doesn’t work. It can also be a weakness.

Aside from the games, it was really hard to get a sponsor at the beginning. It was not in the dark era of the FGC, but it was an era where you had people like Justin Wong, Ricki Ortiz, and only four Japanese players dominating and if it wasn’t them, nobody else would sponsor you.

So I think….passing that hurdle of actually being good as I became, getting sponsored was a big relief. It made me happy in my heart and after that, you could only go up. It’s one of those things that….you try something for so long and I moved here [to the states] just to get sponsored and I stayed a whole year without it. So yeah that’s the biggest hurdle that I had to pass.

I think now the biggest hurdle that I have right now is that I’ve been having a bit of trouble feeling the fire I used to have. That doesn’t take away that I want to do good so that’s why I keep coming and want to stay relevant.

MB: Anything you want to say to your fans?

PR Balrog: To all followers and subscribers, thank you very much for your continued support. To the new followers that don’t know me, I am very vocal so don’t get mad at me.

If you come to me at Evo I’m always very welcoming, but you don’t want to be beside me when I lose. When you see me again, then you can approach me.(laughs)

Source: Khaos Gaming