Infexious gets technical about Street Fighter V!
One of the strongest albeit underrated players coming out of the United Kingdom, Cygames Beast’s DC “Infexious” Coleman has been making waves in the Capcom Pro Tour since the Street Fighters IV days and now really coming into his own and taking names in Street Fighter V for the past three years.
Finishing in 4th place in the European standings and most recently, placing himself 2nd at Kumite, Infexious might have seemed to come out of nowhere for some who are new to the scene, but if you’ve followed him for a while, one can find out that his fighting game roots go a bit deeper.
I sat down with Infexious the day before Evo 2019 to talk about his surprising humble beginnings in the fighting game community as well as his life outside of it. He also goes into detail about what kept him from traveling more to compete in his early days, his competitive mindset, the UK fighting game scene, and his thoughts going into Capcom Cup 2019.
MB: First of all, I have been following your career since you first appeared on the CPT with Hugo in Ultra Street Fighter IV back in 2015. I just found out recently through the magic of YouTube that you’ve actually been playing competitively since Vanilla SF4 using Ryu, Sagat, and sometimes Akuma.
It seems like people are learning more and more about you lately but somehow you have been somewhat of an enigmatic player all this time. How long have you been playing fighting games?
Was Street Fighter IV your first competitive game and what drew you to it? Was there a specific moment or realization that made you decide to pursue a pro gaming career in competitive fighting games? If so what was it and why?
Infexious: Dead or Alive 4 got me started. Street Fighter IV was the game I started traveling for and diving into it. When I started playing Street Fighter IV, it was very different from Dead or Alive 4 since it was a 2D fighter. I never played 2D fighters competitively up to that point.
Applying frame data, spacing, pokes, and all types of things were quite tricky because to me, Dead or Alive is a rock-paper-scissor game, and Street Fighter seemed so much more complex than that. It was really interesting to get into…to put loads of times into understanding, learning it, reading loads of stuff online, and watching lots of videos.
I played a ton and I was beating people. I was winning a lot. Then I played players like Alioune from France. He was a guy who I just couldn’t beat like I would beat other people. I would play him for hours and hours.
All of that got me stronger again so I would play and play and I thought, You know what, I got to go to tournaments and see. I would go to my local tournaments and win those. Then I thought, I’ve got to travel out. I would go to London and play loads of people.
Whilst that was all going on, I was still doing the studying, but then as times developed and esports started to become a thing and there were opportunities because gaming was growing so fast, I thought, you know what, this is something that if I’ve been put my all into it. I could potentially do some great things in it. So I would give myself the opportunity when the stars aligned and things became available.
MB: What are some of your other hobbies and interests? Any other games you enjoy playing other than fighters?
Infexious: I used to play CVS2 when I was younger. I played the Tekken games when they first came out. Dead or Alive 4 was the first game that I played where I started to understand what frame data was–that there something deeper to fighting games than just doing special moves and pressing buttons. I’ve played a couple of shooters like Gears of War and Call of Duty, but never took them that seriously.
MB: What’s the meaning behind the “Infexious” handle?
Infexious: It’s a combination of my first and middle names. It’s shortened because people often butcher my first name.
MB: You have a very patient playstyle that seems to stem from your Hugo play in USF4. You are also very stoic with a stoneface look that rivals that of Momochi and Daigo from back in the day and you rarely, if ever, are fazed when you lose a game or a full set.
Was this level of patience self-taught or nurtured over time or have you always been like this?
Infexious: I think it actually stems from me observing how a lot of the top-level Japanese players played very early on in Street Fighter‘s lifespan when I first started to find out about tournaments and how long the series has been played at a competitive level.
So I watched those players and saw how focused they were, how calculated they were and the things that they were doing and so I thought that I need to implement this into how I play if I wanted to compete at a higher level.
MB: Who are some of your biggest rivals and gatekeepers in competition? Who or what do you see as your biggest obstacle at Evo 2019 and what’s your mindset and gameplan going into this tournament?
Infexious: There are many, many obstacles. This is one of the time periods where you really cannot underestimate anyone. There are top-level players who you know to look out for and then some of the dangerous players are the ones you don’t know who to look out for.
You don’t even know their name! (laughs) One of the great things about tournaments now is that you can see your path on Smash.gg as to who you may have to face.
Well when you come from Europe, the gatekeepers are the three kings of the region: Phenom, Problem X, and Luffy. They’ve been on top of the European scene for many years. So if you want to become one of the best players in Europe, you have to take on those three.
Luffy has been my demon for the past year. I’ve played Phenom and got the better of him a couple of times. Problem X as well….we played recently where he won one set, I won one set, and then he won one set. I’ve been able to compete with them, but they’re the main players that anybody should be focusing on in Europe if you want to compete at the top level.
On the world spectrum, you’ve got your Punks, the Tokidos, the Fujimuras, the Bonchans. There’s a whole host of different players, characters, and play styles that you’ve got to be ready for if you want to compete at a high level.
MB: What have been some of your biggest mental hurdles to improve on as a competitor? Was there a certain moment or match where a player mentally cracked you even if you don’t show it? What was your saltiest loss? You don’t seem fazed ever!
Infexious: I don’t know when the point was, but one hurdle that comes to mind is going into the losers bracket in a tournament and still playing to the best of your ability. When you go into the losers bracket, especially in this game, it can mentally shock you and take its toll. Being put in the losers bracket puts you at a significant disadvantage.
So being able to fight out of it is a hurdle. There have been times where I’ve been able to do that which I’m proud of. It’s an ongoing thing where you see some of the best players do it and climb out of it.
I try not to be (laughs). In the moment, I know that whatever happens, happens now, it’s time to review afterward. So there’s no point in getting emotional, getting thrown off-center during the match. Let it play out, apply what you prepared, and then after that, you go back and review and you see what was the right strategy and what were they doing in response. All the emotion comes out afterward when you sit down and review.
I’m very rarely salty after a loss. The one that sticks out in my mind was Evo 2018. I dropped a winning combo against Poongko’s Kolin last game and round and that’s how I got put into the losers bracket. That one was a bit frustrating, but it doesn’t play on me because I just think that happens. If you’re a competitor you will drop the winning combo.
Everyone is a human being. I just see it as part of the road, part of the journey. If you’re consistent in a tournament, those drops won’t even matter. The next tournament you’ll do well and the next one you’ll do well and maybe this one you got unfortunate. I just don’t dwell on it because it’s not going to make me better.
MB: Looking at your past results, you placed consistently in every tournament you’ve entered even though they are so few in number. What prevented you from traveling to other events outside of the UK and Europe earlier in your career?
Infexious: For years, I first studied for a law degree and that was back in 2008/2009 when Street Fighter IV was coming out. I then worked at a law firm for a few years. It wasn’t quite my thing so I went back to the university to get a teaching degree. So I was doing all of that alongside putting my all into gaming.
It was tough. They require a lot to get through those qualifications, but I managed to juggle both and still be able to compete at a good enough level to put my name out there.
MB: What is the competitive scene in the United Kingdom like now? Are you still able to get solid practice both offline and online? Who are some of your training partners other than your CYG teammates?
Infexious: It’s actually quite good. There are a lot of events situated in the south. I live in Manchester and a lot of the events are in London. So I don’t quite get the chance to go down and compete in as many as events as I’d like to.
But there is a thriving scene in the north where we have events starting around small scenes and sometimes people come together to compete there. In London, there are a lot of weekly events that go on so there’s a lot of competition.
I’m a strong advocate of online play. I’ve had an offline scene….back in the days of early Street Fighter IV, I used to go to my local and play in tournaments there. It was a good enough scene and it did improve my ability to compete in a tournament environment, but the vast majority of my experience, my knowledge, my skills have been acquired playing online.
Playing strong players online, grinding, playing battle lounges with a group of players…that has been the cornerstone of my development. If you train the right way and with the right opponents, online can be just as good as offline. Offline prepares you for tournaments. That’s the experience you can’t get online.
I play with Gunslinger and Hurricane. A lot of UK players play online. Thankfully, connections between certain regions in Europe are very stable. We get some good connections with people from France and anywhere in the UK.
MB: At the beginning of SFV, you were playing both Zangief and Necalli with great success. Now it seems you’re committed to maining Zeku and so far your tournament results in 2019 have not only been consistent, but it seems like you’re placing higher.
Why did you decide to switch to Zeku and which matchups do you think he’s the strongest and weakest in? Do you still keep Necalli or Zangief in your pocket just in case things don’t go well with Zeku?
Infexious: I’m slowly fazing Necalli out. I’ve played him in certain matchups where I felt a little bit more comfortable like F.A.N.G. and Dhalsim. Recently I’ve played Zeku for Dhalsim and so I’m learning a lot of the matches that I was comfortable with Necalli as Zeku. If you focus on one or two characters as Zeku and Necalli, it’s easier to learn matchups more intricately.
If you’ve got a whole host of characters, you have a benefit because you can change it up like a swiss army knife. The disadvantages are that you can’t know the matchups, the spacing, how people can respond to that character over thousands and thousands of games–that kind of instinct. You can’t have that with a big array of characters so I wanted to cut it down to just one or two characters.
At the start, I really enjoyed playing Zangief because it was a good transition from Hugo in USF4. As time went on, I understood a bit more about how this game worked. I realized that Zangief was in some ways he was fundamentally flawed in this game engine.
One of the main reasons is because since command grabs are five frames, has two active frames, and you’ve got variable wakeup on knockdowns–it’s extremely difficult to do a meaty command grab on someone in this game.
So if you play against a character like Dhalsim and they do a wakeup teleport which isn’t invincible to throws and you’re Zangief and you read that with a command grab, but you mistime it by a frame because you five frames to work with, he’s away from you even though you mad the right read! Things like that were frustrating to me.
I didn’t feel like I wasn’t able to make the correct reads consistently so I thought maybe that’s not the style that works for this game. In the old games you a had two-frame command grab where you could easily do meaty with it. So I thought I’m going to move away and play another character that has a command grab in Necalli. He’s a bit more mobile and doesn’t just rely on those hard read situations.
Thankfully that was a good choice and I saw some success with him as well.
MB: From what I’ve seen of your Zeku play, you tend to use old Zeku quite a bit. Does that pertain to particular matchups or certain players?
Infexious: When I first started using Zeku, I thought young Zeku was miles better than old. I would always play young and I basically learned young before I learned old. As time I went on, I started to understand the strengths of old Zeku and how to play the game–even after years and years of play you’re still learning new things–I realized old was a lot better than I thought. Using both old and young styles is the key to mastering Zeku and making him a top contender.
MB: Now with your new sponsorship under CYG, you will be able to travel a lot more and experience different parts of the world. With that said, where do you see yourself going say five years from now? What are some of your goals and aspirations both in your pro gamer career and your regular life?
Infexious: One of my main aspirations was to make sure I have a foundation, qualification, and a profession that would allow me to teach something that you can take around the world. I wanted to get something that would give me a foundation so that if I went and pursued a passion such as gaming which is what it has been for years and that doesn’t work out, I’ve always got that to fall back on.
Right now I’ve put that on the back burner and I’m focusing on my passion. Hopefully, I can win big tournaments, achieve big things, build a brand as the saying goes, and within five years be a member of the FGC that’s recognized as a great competitor. That’s my ultimate goal.
MB: You’re currently ranked 22nd on CPT Global Standings and second place in the European regional standings. What do you think it’s going to take for you to push through even further on in the CPT season to guarantee your spot in Capcom Cup 2019?
What do you feel you need to improve on in order to grow as a competitive threat to try and win it all? (Update: Now ranked 20th globally and finished in 4th in Europe).
Infexious: I think to get into Capcom Cup I need to maintain form. If I carry on the way that I am performing right now then I should be able to acquire enough points to get in and attend as many events as I can leading up to that. It’s been a good start so I think maintenance is one of the most important things to push myself to the point where I can start thinking about winning the whole thing.
I need to open up my game even further and open my knowledge of the top players. Now we’re getting into the realms where if you’re placing highly consistently, you’re going to be coming into contact with similar faces.
So you need to become aware of how these people play, what their tendencies are and how you can best exploit them to get the big wins out of it. Working on that is the next phase if I can keep up this type of momentum.