What EVO 2022 Was Like In Person

What EVO 2022 Was Like In Person

With John still on the International Space Station, Senior Podcast Producer Jordan Mallory helms the ship to interview News Editor Imran Khan and Linkshell Editor Michael Higham about their on-the-ground experience at EVO 2022, including their hands-on time with Street Fighter 6, the latest in Bud Light technology, what EVO has to offer beyond the tournaments, and a lot more. Listen to the episode below or on your favorite podcast player of choice.

Podcast Transcript:

Jordan: Good morning. Today is Sunday, August 14th, 2022, and you’re listening to Thanks for the Knowledge. I’m your interim host, Jordan Mallory, Senior Podcast Producer here at fanbyte.com. Your regular host, John Warren, is out this week. Today, I’m joined by Fanbyte News Editor Imran Khan and your motherfuckin’ boy Michael Higham, who are here to talk to me about their on the ground experience at EVO 2022, the largest fighting game tournament in the world. We discussed their hands-on time with Street Fighter VI, the best matches they saw at the tournament, the latest in Bud Light technology, and everything that EVO has to offer beyond the tournaments, and a lot more. So sit back, relax, get some coffee, and enjoy.

[music]

Jordan: Welcome back, listeners, and join me please in welcoming back our two distinguished guests for this episode: News editor, Imran Khan.

Imran: Hello.

Jordan: And your motherfucking booooy!

Michael: Hey!

Jordan: Michael Higham.

Michael: Hi. It’s been a minute since I’ve been on TFTK.

Jordan: Yeah.

Michael: But TFTI. [laughter]

Jordan: Well, it’s exactly the same as you remember it. There’s definitely nothing different this time.

Michael: Yeah, you must be that John Warren dude.

Jordan: Yep, that’s me, Fanbyte’s Head of Large John Warren.

Michael: [laughs] Head of Large.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Jordan: Head of Large John Warren, and I’m here to do what I always do, which is provide the listener with a fun and interesting interview with subject matter experts concerning a recent event in the video game industry. And today we’re gonna talk about the Evolution fighting game series tournament 2022. What is EVO actually short for?

Imran: Evolution.

Jordan: Evolution? Is it?

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Okay.

Imran: You nailed it.

Jordan: Cool. I can never remember if it’s short for Evolution or if it’s like an anagram.

Michael: It’s, yeah, it’s just EVO.

Imran: I think, yeah, they just call it EVO, but it is– the official name is Evolution.

Jordan: Or acronym, not anagram.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Okay.

Michael: It’s officially called the Evolution Championship Series.

Jordan: That’s it.

Michael: EVO for short, ’cause it sounds cool.

Jordan: EVO for short.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: And we’re talking about this ’cause you both went this year.

Michael: Hell yeah.

Imran: Yeah. Somehow we convinced John and Danielle to let us go to EVO under the assumption that like, Hey, what if we just did this thing that seems like a thing we don’t normally do?

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: So they let us go, and we stayed in Vegas for… [Michael laughs] I want to say four days, but maybe what was like 17?

Michael: Yo. Oh my God.

Jordan: Okay. Big difference between four and 17.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Michael: Listen, we’ll get to it, but to give y’all a teaser of what happened, EVO did feel like eight days, [laughs] ’cause there came a point when like you’re in the convention center for so long that you lose track of time, and you don’t know what time of day it is.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Michael: And you’re there for so long, and so much happens, like each day is very dense, that you start to like, “Wait, those matches were yesterday?”

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: That sure was like…

Imran: Each day runs from like 8:00 A.M. to 2:00 A.M.

Michael: Yes.

Imran: So.

Jordan: And Vegas is designed for you to not know what time it is, right?

Imran: Yes.

Michael: Precisely. Yes.

Jordan: Right, right?

Imran: Like even when you’re walking back to your hotel or your hotel room, ’cause like, I was staying adjacent to EVO, so I was like able to walk through the casinos and never have to– not have to leave into the horrible desert that is Las Vegas.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Imran: And I just didn’t see the sun for like two days.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah. Yeah, ’cause…

Jordan: That’s a long time.

Michael: Yeah. Imran stayed at the Luxor, which has a concourse directly to Mandalay Bay. I, on the other hand, had a hotel somewhere else, so I did get to see the outside world. But boy, when I was in, when I was in that convention center, I did not leave, ’cause there was so much dope shit going on.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: There was so much cool stuff to do. EVO is…

Jordan: How was that outside world?

Michael: Hottest shit, goddamn! It was…

Imran: Yeah. [laughter] So, every Vegas person or person who lives in or near Vegas mentioned the weather.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Imran: And they mentioned, “Wow, it’s so nice.” [laughter] And keep in mind, this is a Vegas summer.

Jordan: Like in general, or specifically while you were there?

Imran: Specifically while we were there.

Jordan: [laughs] Okay, great.

Imran: Because like, it had just rained before we got– like, there were flash floods last week, and there’s flash floods now, so actually we came at a very good time. But like, everyone was saying, “Oh, it’s not that bad right now. It’s not like oppressive. The rain made it a lot cooler.” [laughter] And I’m like, it’s 105 degrees.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Imran: At least.

Jordan: To you!

Imran: Yeah. There were times where it went to 110.

Jordan: Cool.

Imran: It’s like, I don’t know how people live there. I assume just nobody actually does, and they’re gaslighting me, because it is… [laughter] Vegas is, in so many ways, a testament to man’s hubris.

Jordan: Oh yeah.

Imran: No more than ever than like that weekend. [John laughs]

Michael: Yeah. I mean, like, people who live in Vegas have really nice homes for decent prices, [Jordan: “Mm-hmm”] so they have no reason to actually go outside.

Jordan: Right.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: So they’ll step outside for like five minutes, like, “Huh. Seems nice today. I’m gonna stay in my fully air conditioned, central unit air conditioned house [Jordan: “Mm-hmm”] that I pay for a fraction of a price of an apartment that I would have in San Francisco Bay area.” Damn, Imran, imagine what kind of house we can– we can have a content creators house in Vegas, if we pool our money.

Imran: We could have a TikTok house. Yeah.

Michael: Oh my God.

Jordan: Fanbyte house? Yeah. That’d be way cheaper than that office that we built.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, we can go to EVO every year.

Jordan: Yeah.

Imran: And all it would cost us was that every time we leave the house we would melt like the witch from Wizard of Oz.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Well, look, I’m doing that anyway. It’s like 103 outside right now in Austin.

Imran: That’s too much.

Jordan: Yeah. It’s too many, too many degrees out there.

Imran: Yeah. That number is too high.

Jordan: It’s very, way too high. This was both of y’all’s first EVO, right?

Michael: No, this was my second.

Jordan: Your second EVO.

Imran: It was the first one I’ve actually attended, yeah.

Jordan: Okay, but not watched.

Imran: Right. I think I’ve– I covered one from home, in that like, they would– I think I Discord called the interviewees, ’cause like, Game Informer, you had that kind of pull.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Imran: And like, that is how I covered it, but I’d never actually been to one in person.

Jordan: Right. Okay. Cool. So, what…how different was it for you to be in person?

Imran: I, mm…it’s very cool. Like, the idea of energy being infectious—and thank God that was the only infection I came away from EVO with [Michael: “Ayo”]—is like very real. Again, Michael, we’re talking about COVID. [laughter]

Michael: Okay, all right, all right.

Imran: Not anything else. [laughs]

Michael: It’s Vegas. You know, shit happens.

Jordan: Shit happens in Vegas.

Imran: But like, the energy is infectious. It is, like, you do jump out of your seat when cool shit happens, because like, even if you don’t really understand or know the fighting game in particular, you know like what the push and pull is like, [“Mm-hmm, yeah”] just on a like fundamental competitive level. And just sitting there and watching it and everyone around you getting hype is enough to make you like jump out of your seat like, “Holy shit! Look at that! Amazing!”

Michael: Yeah, it’s…for my second time, it’s still, it gets you every time, because I feel like even though they’re playing the same games that you’ve watched over the years, like Imran said, that push and pull is still exciting. And when you have a new crop of players who can come up who are playing different characters, it’s like, like I could watch Tekken 7 throughout the years, [“Mm-hmm”] and it’s still just like, when someone hits the rage arts to get a knockout, like that is always gonna be hype as hell, especially when you’re watching a top 8 in an arena with thousands of other people. So, it’s just as magical the second time around. I imagine it’s gonna be just as magical the third time around when I go back next year, because EVO was just a ton of fun, man.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Yeah, that was–

Imran: We got some good stories out of this one, so I assume we are going to go back next year.

Michael: Yeah. Sure, yeah.

Jordan: That was gonna be one of my questions for later is whether or not y’all had a good enough experience to be like, “Yeah, I definitely want to do this again.”

Michael: Oh yeah.

Imran: Honestly, yeah. Like, being able to do that in like the actual, like being there in person stuff, that matters. But also the fact that we got to go talk to like iDom, who made a ridiculously incredible losers bracket run in Street Fighter.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: We got to go back and talk to UMISHO—who is the like, she won Guilty Gear—and like find out stuff that nobody else would be able to find out.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Like she had only been playing for less than a year.

Jordan: That’s incredible.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: I didn’t know that.

Michael: There so many cool stories that you would only get if you were there, and well, Imran and I both had press passes, so we had access to the…we had access to the press room. We had access to the winners for the games.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: And then we had…we were able to chill with like the commentators down on the floor, right in front of the stage.

Jordan: Oh, nice.

Michael: We were side stage for whatever we wanted, really, so…

Jordan: Got access to the private bathrooms.

Michael: Yes.

Imran: Actually, technically, yes.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Really? Oh, wow, that’s great.

Imran: To the media room, like there was just a private bathroom that nobody else in the arena was using, so it’s like, okay, this place is clean and empty. Great. [Michael laughs]

Jordan: Wow. Look at these bought journalists with their private bathroom, [Imran and Micheal laugh] not having to pee with the common man.

Imran: And our free sample of Budweiser gamer edition. What the fuck was it called? [Jordan laughs]

Michael: Bud Next, is it?

Imran: Bud Next.

Jordan: Wait, really? Is that real?

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: It’s an energy drink Budweiser, basically.

Michael: Oh no.

Jordan: Oh, is that what it is?

Imran: I think so.

Jordan: Wait, I thought they couldn’t make those. I thought after Four Loco made people go totally nuts that they said, “Hey, cut this out.”

Imran: Maybe.

Michael: No, I think Next is like a super low calorie or a non-alcoholic beer, I think?

Imran: Okay.

Jordan: I’m gonna look it up. Talk amongst yourselves.

Imran: ‘Cause like, I went into the Budweiser Next trailer [laughs] and they had all this stuff that was there of like, Budweiser Next gives you the energy to keep on gaming all night long.

Michael: Really? Oh shit. [laughs]

Imran: So like, I would assume? Maybe they’re just using like weird wording, ’cause like also on the trailers it said “The official beer of gaming,” which I don’t think is true. I don’t think a vote was ever held on that one.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: No.

Michael: I’m gonna take that up with gaming, the secretary of gaming, and see who voted on this bullshit.

Imran: Yeah. I think– I’m the president of video games, and I don’t think I signed off on that, so.

Michael: Oh. Well, there you go.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: All right, so, it says here under the frequently asked questions on the Bud Light Next website, which the three tabs at the top are Buy Beer, Buy Gear, and Buy NFTs. [Imran laughs]

Michael: Oh my God. You hate to see it.

Imran: Ah.

Michael: I’m not going back to EVO next year. Sorry. You hate to see it. [laughter]

Jordan: It says it’s 0 carbs, 80 calories, and 4% alcohol by volume.

Imran: Okay.

Jordan: But it says it’s not a hard seltzer. It’s a…

Michael: It’s actual beer.

Jordan: Super crisp zero carb beer, it says. “Is it made for people who are dieting? No. [laughter] We introduced Bud Light Next to meet the evolving tastes of our consumers who lead highly active and on the go lifestyles and desire more interesting, equally refreshing drink.” That’s weird.

Imran: They should have just posted this FAQ up in the Bud Light or Budweiser Next trailer.

Jordan: Yeah, I guess so. But yeah, I don’t see anything in here about like caffeine or stimulants or anything.

Imran: Okay. Okay.

Jordan: Yeah.

Imran: So, yeah.

Jordan: It’s just water, malt, rice, and, quote, natural flavors. [laughter]

Michael: Natural flavors. I love that ingredient.

Jordan: Mm.

Michael: Shit tastes so good.

Jordan: But speaking of NFTs, like everybody who went to EVO got one whether they wanted one or not, right?

Michael: Yeah, dawg. I sold that shit for 30,000 million dollars.

Jordan: Yeah? Why are you still here?

Michael: Uh…you ask me, peace.

Imran: Love of the game. Yeah. Like there was a weird Sony thing that was about NFTs that I didn’t really view track of, but it seems like they were like, “No, no, no, we’re not actually doing this. It just says we’re doing this.”

Jordan: Hmm.

Imran: Like, okay?

Michael: I think it was some kind of activation thing? It was, I don’t know. I guess they asked like people who were participating in the activation whatever. I didn’t come across it, but I know that folks—including fanbyte.com—reported on it, and listen, I hope they stay away from that shit, ’cause…

Jordan: It just seems like late and ill advised.

Michael: Yeah, it’s…

Jordan: Like, who’s that for?

Michael: I don’t know. Whatever it was, it didn’t…there was nothing around like being at the event that had anything to do with NFTs, so I hope they keep it that way.

Jordan: Oh, interesting. So it wasn’t like there at all. There wasn’t a big PlayStation sign that said…

Michael: [laughs] No.

Imran: No.

Jordan: “Pick up your free NFT.”

Michael: “Pick up your free NFTs.” No, no, no, no, and I hope they keep it that way, ’cause EVO is dope the way it is.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: They don’t need to…

Imran: It still kind of has that punk rock feeling to it, like that Rebel FM [“Mm-hmm”] kind of like, “Yeah, we’re supported by a giant corporation. Yeah, we had custom made screens for like the arena, but like we’re still the fighting game community,” kind of thing.

Jordan: And that’s– the FGC has worked so hard to avoid being considered eSports for so long, right?

Michael: I mean…I don’t know.

Imran: There are a…there are people who like definitely don’t like the idea of being called eSports, and there are people who are like, “Yeah, we need the money.”

Jordan: Mm. [laughter]

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Like, if you want like more money in this thing, if you want like bigger…like the graphical packages this year were like way above and beyond what they’ve been in previous years, for example. I don’t think you could pull off a tournament like EVO, probably, without like Sony and whoever else like bankrolling it.

Jordan: Bud Light.

Imran: And Bud Light, yes.

Michael: And Bud Light, yeah.

Jordan: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, it’s…so EVO is actually like a very well produced convention and show, especially when you make it to– if you make it to day three. If you go to the arena in day three, it’s a full on like stage production with very fancy graphics, very fancy transitions. It’s a well oiled machine, and yeah, it’s live production. They have a commentators booth, and they’re going around all day, and they have commentators on the floor, and they have like…

Imran: I actually thought that was super cool.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Imran: That the stream gets their own like professional commentators who are explaining things, like in a very hyped way, but like they’re a little bit more calm, and they have people who are– they have like handheld mics, like walking around the stage.

Michael: Jumping up and down, celebrating with the crowd.

Imran: Yeah, like a rap battle, basically. [Jordan laughs]

Michael: It’s, yeah. And I think that was one of my favorite things about when I went to EVO 2019, was when I…‘cause I was surprised too. It was like, oh, I’ve watched this at home, and I’ve seen the commentary, but when you’re down there and like Tasty Steve—who is like one of the greatest hype men in the history of like the FGC—is running around stage and just like getting hype along with the crowd, while they’re also like legitimately breaking down the match, and they have like– they usually have a duo, sometimes they have three people on the floor, going back and forth, cracking jokes and shit. It’s so much fun, especially when you have people like Tasty Steve, who are just so good at it you can’t help but like get in with them. And like, they’re part of that. They’re part of that energy as well. Like, you hear the game audio blasting through the arena speakers, and you see the lights flashing, and you’re watching the game, and you’re also hearing the crowd roaring, and you’re also hearing the commentators break down the game and getting hype. Yeah, it’s just a…

Like, watching at home and even watching the videos back on my phone that I took just like don’t do justice to the energy and the various ways in which the energy just rubs off on you when you’re actually in the present. Like, we had seats, Imran and I had, like, there was a media section for seats reserved, but every time it started going to either like the top 4, like losers finals or winners finals, or the like top 3 and the grand finals, like, I can’t sit down. I gotta get down to the stage. I need to jump up and down, and I need to celebrate with the crowd. I need to be side stage. So I think like people who are interested in EVO and checking out an FGC event, like obviously there’s other FGC events throughout the year, like Combo Breaker and whatnot.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: But I think EVO is the one that you want to check out if you have the slightest interest in the fighting game community, ’cause other than that too, like I said, it’s also a convention where you have fun and do things.

Jordan: Right, I was gonna ask: what is the convention side of EVO like? ‘Cause I think what most people associate with the show is the big grand finals with the screens and the fun media treatment and the commentary and everything and like [“Mm-hmm”] the clips that get shown around for the week after, of like, here’s a great comeback or, you know, look at the audience pop off or that sort of thing. What is the convention floor at EVO like?

Imran: So, there’s like…they have to bring in people who own arcade machines, basically, and they bring in tons of them. I want to say there’s like three dozen machines there in like a big pit area?

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: And like, it’s just full of fighting games and rhythm games, and these are expensive, rare machines in some cases.

Michael: They’re nice.

Imran: Of like, those really huge rhythm games that you only see in like GDQ runs or Japanese arcades.

Jordan: Oh, nice.

Imran: Just kinda sitting there for free play.

Michael: Uh huh.

Imran: I spent an hour just deciding like, yeah, I’m gonna beat the Punisher arcade game. Why not? [laughter] And just went and did that. But like also I played Street Fighter Alpha gets like really cool people like and Project Justice and stuff. They’re just there. So if you wanted to spend your entire day just playing arcade games, there’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to.

Michael: Yeah, you could–

Jordan: Well, wait, if everything’s free, how do you quarter up? How do you know who’s next?

Michael: [laughs quietly] That’s on y’all. You actually gotta talk to people.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Oh, no. I’m not gonna do that. [laughter]

Michael: Yeah. That’s funny though, quartering. ‘Cause I was playing the DDR for like an hour straight, [“Mm-hmm”] and I was just, you know, you just gotta be like, “Hey, can I get next?” So, no quartering up on– I mean, maybe you could still try and put a quarter there just as a, for symbolic reasons.

Jordan: You just have your one quarter that you use to quarter up on the various machines. [laughter]

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: How long had it been since you played DDR?

Michael: Me? Shit. Probably like…on a pad, probably like at least a decade.

Jordan: Wow.

Michael: And for me, [laughs] I’m so washed up. Oh my God. I did one song on extreme, and I was like fighting for my life, man. The ultimate fighting game was between me and that DDR machine, man. [laughter]

Imran: Did you, Michael, play against that girl dressed as Juri?

Michael: [laughs] No, no.

Imran: Okay. So, the entirety of the second day, there was a woman there—late teens, early twenties something—dressed as Juri from Street Fighter.

Jordan: Jamie Lee Curtis.

Imran: And she, I thought– I explained the story to Michael earlier that there’s Jamie Lee Curtis every year.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: But this year, like this woman dressed as Juri was just challenging people to DDR, and whoever came up there, was like, “I will give you my entire winnings from the rest of the day, if you want to– if you can beat me.” But by the end of the day, she still had all her winnings.

Jordan: That’s amazing.

Imran: I don’t think anyone beat her.

Michael: Ah, damn.

Jordan: Did y’all– did you talk to her? Like, what’s her deal?

Imran: I talked to her a bit, yeah.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: And she didn’t want to say her name.

Jordan: Oh, word.

Imran: She said she came from Jersey. That’s all she was willing to tell me.

Michael: Juri from Jersey.

Jordan: Juri from Jersey, you sound like a real one.

Michael: Hey, first time, long time.

Jordan: If you want to talk, if you want to tell us your story, [Michael laughs] email us at [email protected]

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Or tweet at us or something. You sound like somebody who’s put a lot of work into something and maybe has an interesting story.

Michael: Man, those arcades are so fun, because like, you could probably…I probably got my money’s– well, I didn’t pay really pay anything, ’cause I got the press badge. [Imran and Jordan laugh] But if you bought like a ticket to go to the convention, you could get more than your money’s worth if you just sat in the arcades all day playing these different games, and there’s a lot of stuff set up, and it’s not even just the arcade machines. Like, you could spend all day there, if you want to play In the Groove or yeah, ITG, but I’m a DDR person.

Jordan: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Michael: But also like the side tournaments are hype, so if you– I was watching Soulcaliber VI, like it doesn’t, it’s not on the main stage, but there’s still a bracket going on, and I was watching BlazBlue: Cross Tag, ’cause I play that game, and there’s a section for casual matches, and I played some Under Night In-Birth over there in the casuals and got my ass whooped.

Imran: Hm.

Michael: Was like, wow, this is cool. This is like so much stuff to check out.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: And then artist alley. Oh my God. Don’t even get me started.

Jordan: There’s an artist alley? I didn’t know that.

Michael: Yeah. Don’t even get me started on artist alley. I drop like 200 bucks easy [Jordan: “Nice”] on stickers, pins, and prints. There’s some really cool and creative stuff, and like, you’ll see a lot of…like, if you go to like Anime Expo or Crunchyroll Expo, [Jordan: “Mm-hmm”] you know, you’ll get like the popular animes of the time. You know, there’s Naruto, Dragon Ball, there’s a lot of Spy x Family stuff out there, which was cool. But you’ll get artists that are there for fighting game characters as well, so you’ll find– like you don’t, if you go to Anime Expo, good luck finding something like Guilty Gear or BlazBlue in artist alley.

Jordan: Yeah.

Michael: But there, like at EVO is where you’ll find things like that. And I think like Combo Breaker also has an artist alley where you can find niche stuff like that, but if you want like a…if you want a big-ass Baiken print.

Jordan: Who doesn’t?

Michael: Yes! [laughs] Listen, you could get that at EVO, easy. So like, artist alley– and compared to 2019, artist alley was cool, but it was much smaller back then, [“Mm”] where it was just like three aisles with some artists, and it was really good, but like this year, artist alley took up like the whole center of the convention floor.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: And there was just like really cool stuff. There’s one artist, she was doing– she had a bunch of Final Fantasy XIV pins and like really unique stickers and really cool art style.

Jordan: Oh, interesting.

Michael: And I said, here’s a hundred bucks. I’m cleaning the house. [laughter]

Jordan: Here’s a hundred bucks. I’m just gonna shove a bunch of pins in my pocket. We’ll call it even.

Michael: Yeah, that’s basically what I did, and yeah.

Jordan: I want to ask you a question about 2019 in a second, but first, Imran, did you see or encounter anything cool on the convention floor other than Juri from Jersey?

Imran: I played with, uh, I think it’s Victrix’s new arcade stick, which is neat. Like, it’s a cool little stick. I didn’t get a chance to actually like use it in a game.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: But like, it’s like a $400 stick, and I’m like, what if I request this to review? What happens? [laughter]

Jordan: What is it that makes it $400?

Imran: It’s just very good build quality.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: And like, they have two versions. They had the one with the arcade stick and they had the one with the buttons, [“Oh, word”] which is like a hitbox style thing.

Jordan: Right, right.

Imran: And I’m like, I don’t think I could ever fuck with the buttons one. I don’t think I’m like, that’s the way my brain works.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: But like, it does seem like really, really nice quality. And my current stick I’ve been using since whenever the PS4 came out, so 2012ish?

Jordan: Right.

Imran: And like, this is due for an upgrade, and I can tell how, one, cheaply made mine is in comparison and like how that’s actually, I think, holding me back a bit from getting good at these games.

Michael: Okay. Alright. [laughter]

Imran: A little bit. A little bit!

Michael: Yeah, no, like a good stick can…

Jordan: Oh, it makes a big difference.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: It does make a big difference, especially when you’re like with, if you need precise inputs.

Jordan: Totally.

Michael: Like, if you miss that quarter– if you wiff on that quarter circle, man, that’s the match.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Could be.

Jordan: Yeah.

Imran: If you accidentally jump is much more of a problem.

Jordan: It can even make a difference, like, you could even have the right stick with the wrong gate shape for your play style, you know?

Michael: Yeah, that too.

Jordan: There’s a bunch of little things that can add up. So, was it…is it wooden? Is it metal? ‘Cause like, I’m assuming if it’s better than the one that you have that it’s not plastic.

Imran: It’s metal, I believe.

Michael: Yeah, it’s like a titanium chassis.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Damn.

Michael: Yeah, it’s like…

Jordan: That’s gotta be heavy.

Imran: It did seem very– I didn’t like pick it up, ’cause it was sitting on a table, but like it had a lot of weight. Like, I was moving the stick around, and it was not like shifting at all on the desk.

Jordan: Wow. Do y’all play with your sticks in your lap or on the table?

Imran: In my lap usually, ’cause like I have a whole– I have a setup with like a TV stand, like TV dinner stand thing, [“Oh, okay”] like the kind of thing you put in front of a couch.

Jordan: Right.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: But like, it’s such a pain to bring out, and when you bring it out, the cat wants to sit on it anyway.

Jordan: Aw.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like, all right, whatever. I’ll just put it on my lap.

Jordan: Cat’s like, “Ah, you’ve brought my pedestal. Thank you.” [laughter]

Imran: You’ve brought me my throne. Thank you very much.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: My elevation table. Michael?

Michael: I have a $40 Ikea desk. This shit’s gonna tip over if I use my stick on this, so. [laughter] Yeah, but it’s funny, Imran, you mentioned the hitbox style one where the directional inputs are buttons. I was on the Bombcast earlier this week, and I said like, yeah, my brain isn’t wired to process movement. Like I gotta have a joystick, an arcade stick, for my directional inputs. Last night, I was like, yo, what if I used my keyboard [Jordan: “Mm-hmm?”] to play Melty Blood? Let me see if that can work. And I was like, oh shit, this is different!

Jordan: Yeah?

Michael: And like, it gave me like half an hour. I’m like, all right, you know what? I’m getting one of these hitbox things, ’cause it only took me like half an hour to adjust, but oh my God, it feels much better, in terms of like accuracy and directional inputs. And like, I don’t know, you see like top players, like Daigo and Kawano using hitbox style sticks. Well, that’s– can you even call it a stick at that point? [laughter] ‘Cause there is no stick, but yeah, the…

Imran: Right.

Michael: If you spend time with like that, that shit can change the game.

Jordan: Well, and that matters for Street Fighter, ’cause they’ve got the like…there’s that oppositional directional input thing, right?

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Yeah. So.

Imran: Being able to hit down and up at the same time, turns out, actually very useful for a lot of reasons.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Yeah. Weird. Man, video games are so weird, ’cause it’s like, I remember when all that stuff was popping off. For the listeners at home, if you don’t, if you’re not familiar, in some fighting games, if you are using a controller that allows simultaneous directional inputs that are in opposite cardinal directions, useful things can happen in a game, and it was kind of up to– whenever this stuff started coming to the surface after people started using devices like the hitbox and keyboard inputs, it was kind of up to the community to decide like how okay this is.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Is this against the spirit of the game, since you couldn’t do this on an arcade machine? Or is using special equipment just part of it now?

Imran: Yeah. At one time, they did ban it for Smash Brothers. I don’t know if they ever unbanned it, but I assume they did at this point.

Jordan: Hmm. Interesting. I didn’t know that was a thing in Smash. I knew that it was mostly a thing in like late stage Street Fighter IV.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: But it’s probably still kicking around, right?

Imran: Yeah. It like, I think for Smash, it broke things in like a way that like, it did things the game controller could not do.

Jordan: Oh, interesting.

Michael: Especially for a game that has something like wave dashing and ledge guarding and things like that.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: And where high level Smash, just, you play the edge of the stage, and that’s pretty much the whole thing.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: I imagine like, you know, doing some tricky things with directional inputs can have a larger impact on a game like Smash, but also, you know what else is banned from fighting games and EVO? Smash itself, so haha! [laughter] Hold that.

Jordan: Not for…not because of the community though, right? That’s Nintendo’s call.

Michael: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Jordan: Is that correct?

Michael: Yeah, exactly.

Imran: Yeah, I think Nintendo signed a deal for another company to have exclusive rights to tournaments, [“Oh, interesting”] which is like the most insane Nintendo kind of deal you could make, I guess.

Michael: Yeah, and–

Jordan: They’ve gone– sorry, go ahead?

Michael: Oh, I was just saying like EVO is now a PlayStation brand thing.

Jordan: Right.

Imran: That too, yes.

Michael: So like, that’s, no chance in hell that you’ll have Smash back at EVO.

Jordan: You don’t think so? You don’t think that like Sony would make the like good goodwill play and be like, “We did it.”

Michael: I also don’t think Nintendo would.

Imran: I think Sony would like it. I think Nintendo would not, yeah.

Michael: Yeah, Nintendo.

Jordan: Oh, interesting.

Michael: It’s all or nothing for them.

Jordan: Right, right.

Imran: One thing that was very funny about Sony’s like ownership of EVO now is ’cause they supplied the consoles for everyone to play, which, one, means everyone’s playing on PS4, or PS4/PS5 for this stuff.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Two, because like they supplied the consoles, they were getting consoles from their own warehouses.

Michael: Oh, yeah. [laughs]

Imran: So they were pretty much all the Star Wars Battlefront II Edition consoles.

Jordan: Really? [laughs]

Imran: Because those didn’t sell, so…

Jordan: Oh, that’s very funny.

Michael: At least they’re getting some use. [laughs]

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: They didn’t skin ’em or anything? They’re just like, it’s just…

Michael: [laughs] No.

Imran: No.

Jordan: It’s just EVO brought to you by Star Wars?

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Imran: Pretty much.

Jordan: That’s very funny. Good job.

Imran: Mm.

Jordan: So, Michael, you’ve been to pre and post COVID EVOs.

Michael: Yep. Mm-hmm.

Jordan: Is there any noticeable difference between the two shows?

Michael: Well, I think the more noticeable difference for me is the scale of everything around it, but I think in relation to COVID, like Vegas is lawless. [laughs]

Jordan: Right.

Michael: Like, ain’t nobody wearing masks in Vegas. But at EVO, they have a strict mask policy, [Jordan: “Hmm”] and everyone was masked up.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: That rules.

Michael: And I think that– yeah, and there wasn’t any complaints about it. Like, the casters were wearing masks. The competitors were wearing masks. Everyone in the crowd was wearing masks. There was a dude– I was front row for Melty Blood, and there was like a staff member for the EVO production team who had boxes of masks or who was handing ’em out to anyone who needed one, and any time someone had their mask down who wasn’t like drinking or eating something, he like went up to them to say, “Hey, you know, mask up, mask up. If you need one, I got like 500 right here in my back pocket.” [laughter] So they were, I feel like that was…you know, there’s some events that’ll be like, “Hey, we have a mask policy,” and then like, who’s there to actually enforce it? Nobody.

Jordan: Right. Right.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: But EVO, I feel like, took that quite seriously. And I think it’s another example of leading by example, because like I said, the casters and the players had to mask up, so [“Mm-hmm”] it’s not like anyone’s going around being like, “Oh, well, they don’t have to, so I don’t have to.”

Jordan: Right. If Daigo’s not doing it, I don’t want to…

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Jordan: I don’t want to embarrass myself in front of Daigo by wearing a mask.

Michael: Yeah, you see Daigo doing it, like, I point like, Hey, listen, Daigo masked up. What about you, huh? Don’t you want to be like Daigo? Like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Imran: Yeah. Also he’s a nurse, so like, he knows better.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Imran: He knows to mask up.

Jordan: Oh, that’s right! I forgot about that. Wow.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: What a cool person.

Imran: Like, I am genuinely shocked, Michael, that neither of us came out of that thing with COVID.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: I just kind of accepted it. Like, it’s gonna happen. I double masked all the time.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Like, except when eating or drinking, but like, sometimes I was eating and drinking like in the arena, [Micheal: “Yeah”] like around literally thousands of people.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: There was one player—ah, forgot their name—that did test positive, unfortunately, but I think that’s…I haven’t heard much else [Imran: “Yeah”] about anything happening there, and like being in Vegas especially. I don’t know. I feel like that’s one of the more dangerous places, I suppose.

Jordan: For sure.

Michael: But yeah, it’s…like, yeah, even their official PlayStation cast, the homegirls Persia and Chastity, who I used to work with at GameSpot. They did the all day streams on the floor, and like all their guests too, all had masked up. So, yeah, leading by example, and I hope, you know, TwitchCon just announced that they are enforcing a mask policy now.

Jordan: Ey, did they reverse on that?

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: That happened like within like a couple hours ago.

Jordan: Oh, that’s great. Breaking news.

Michael: Yeah, breaking news! [quiet laughter] But yeah, and I think now that I look at how EVO was ran, like, oh, other conventions can do this too.

Jordan: Yeah.

Michael: I also just think like the FGC is, you know, there’s a little bit more camaraderie [“Mm-hmm”] and reason to like have each other’s backs. Like, when I was like watching Melty Blood also, the dude next to me, he was drinking a can of Corona. He was drinking beer. And I was like, “Oh shit, like, where’d you get that?” He’s like, “I just brought it in, man.” I was like, “Ah, snap.” He’s like, “But I got this mini bottle of tequila. You want it?” [laughter] And I was like, “Oh, hell yeah, let’s go!” And I was like, “Should I like CashApp you like five bucks?” He’s like, “Nah, man, this is the FGC. We all in this together. We got each other’s backs!”

Jordan: That rules.

Michael: And I was like, “Hell yeah, let’s go!” [laughter] That was like so funny. It’s like this mini bottle of tequila, and he had like this really like earnest speech about comradery and the FGC [“Yeah”] as he was handing me alcohol. [laughs]

Imran: Like, I was sitting around the audience like various days in the arena, and like, there were people who did not know each other sitting next to each other, talking about like fighting games and like [“Mm-hmm”] the narrative hook of the Street Fighter top 8 and stuff like that. It’s like, it’s really interesting, ’cause I’ve been to multiple sports games in my life. I’ve never sat down and talked to someone next to me who I did not know about what we’re watching or about like the MLB or the NBA or whatever.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like, you sit down, you yell at the stage in front of you, and like, that’s it. You don’t really interact with anyone around you. But everyone there is like built into the idea of, oh yeah, we all got something in common here, we’re all friends.

Michael: Yeah. Like, we all participate in these games. It’s not like– well, I mean, I used to like streetball and play rec league for basketball, but I’m not over there like tapping strangers on shoulders being like, “Yo, LeBron, I think he got the triple double tonight.” [Jordan laughs] It’s like, “Yo, Russel Westbrook? More like Russell Westbrick.” [laughter] Like, I’m not doing that when I go to a Lakers game.

Jordan: Sure.

Michael: But when I’m down there, I’m just like– I was talking to iDom’s folks, his…some of his people who were there to like take photos and videos, and I was like, “Oh shit, are y’all with iDom?” They’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” And I was like, “Oh man, yeah, he’s…I don’t see nobody play Laura.” He’s like, “Oh man, like me too, this is pretty wild, ’cause I usually play this, this, and that,” and like when he’s like training and also like…these conversations about these games, [“Mm-hmm”] everyone just like in on it, everyone’s invested, like you know, I’m not–

Imran: Yeah. Even the security guards were like talking to me like, “I’ve never seen a finale like that.” [laughter]

Michael: Oh, yeah.

Jordan: That rules.

Imran: I’m like, “Do you watch a lot of fighting games?” He’s like, “No, this is the first time.” [Michael laughs]

Jordan: That’s awesome.

Michael: Yeah, so it’s, across the board, I think it’s a very good– it’s a very feel good event. So. And I think I talked a little bit about this too, is that when you go to other eSports events, and I’ve been to a few.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: Nothing big like LCS or whatever.

Jordan: What is LCS, for those playing along at home?

Michael: That’s like the League Championships. I’ve never been to like the invitation for Dota or whatever.

Jordan: Ah, word. Okay.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. And, but I think like the fighting game community, like everyone knows how fighting games work, [“Mm-hmm”] whether you’re– like, I barely played Street Fighter V. I can break down what’s happening in Street Fighter V, but even if you can’t, you could tell like, oh snap, they have the same health bar, the first person to, you know, get an opening and confirm their combo is gonna win this match.

Jordan: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Michael: Wow, that’s really hype, and I can tell when that’s gonna happen, whether I’m like–

Jordan: That’s a good point.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: ‘Cause fighting games are so much more– fighting game UI is so much more like blatantly communicative than something like League or like Dota 2 or something like that.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Did y’all…y’all didn’t compete in anything, right?

Imran: No.

Jordan: Or did you?

Michael: No. I was planning on it, but I didn’t.

Jordan: Yeah? What would you have played?

Michael: Melty Blood.

Jordan: Oh, word?

Michael: Yeah, that’s anime fighters. I wish I– you know, I’ve been playing– you know, it’s funny. [laughs quietly] Ken published that article that put us all on blast, where it’s like, “Man Who Watches EVO Now Thinks He Can Get Good at All the Fighting Games.”

Jordan: [laughs] Yeah.

Michael: And that’s exactly what happened to me, ’cause I played– I wanted to play more Melty Blood beforehand, but I was [Jordan: “Mm-hmm”] too late for the– I missed the deadline to sign up. But it wasn’t until afterwards when I– like the first thing I did when I came home was I booted up Melty Blood and I said, all right, who wants some of this online?

Jordan: Mm-hmm. I did the same thing. I reinstalled Guilty Gear, like right–

Michael: Oh, shit.

Jordan: Like right after those finals and they announced Bridget, and I was like, all right, back in it.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah. I booted up Guilty Gear as well. I’m like, oh, I’m gonna pick a character and get good. So I really wish I competed, ’cause I’ve been playing online for Melty Blood, and I think that after watching the finals, watching the top 8, there are just things, habits I start to pick up on, like [Jordan: “Mm-hmm”] oh, the pro players do that. Oh, that’s how they handle this situation. Of course, if you pay attention to that level. Like, you don’t have to to understand what’s going on, but for me, who actually plays Melty Blood, I’m watching this like, oh, that’s how you use moon drive, or that’s how they use moon drive.

Jordan: Mm.

Michael: That’s how they use their drive, their arc finish, and how they string that into combos, and then having–

Jordan: We all know the importance of using moon drive correctly.

Michael: Yeah. Listen, if y’all, don’t know about moon drive, make sure you know how to use it.

Jordan: Now that you’ve got your keyboard tech unlocked.

Michael: Yeah!

Jordan: You’ll be unstoppable.

Michael: I mean, I’m still getting whooped online. Since coming back, I’ve been like a 50% win rate, which is fine, which is much better than–

Jordan: That’s good.

Michael: Yeah, it’s much better than before.

Jordan: Yeah.

Michael: And I’m just like really, really…like, I’m just in the zone when it comes to this stuff, so.

Cool.

Michael: Next year, shit.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: You know?

Jordan: Shit.

Imran: I think I actually might enter SF6 next year

Jordan: Word?

Michael: Sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’d be cool.

Imran: That game is very good, and I like…

Michael: Ugh, yeah.

Imran: Actually, I was talking to iDom. He’s like, “If you want me to help,” like, ’cause he–

Jordan: Dude! That rules.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: We were on a stream a couple of weeks ago where he was teaching me and Blessing Adeoye how to play Street Fighter. So like, if he keeps doing that, I might be good enough to like win a match next time.

Jordan: If you keep getting taught by one of the best Street Fighter players in the entire world.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Yes.

Jordan: You might have a chance.

Imran: I’m sure his teaching is gonna be fine. It’s my learning that I’m worried about. [laughter]

Jordan: Oh, word. I see. Now, you…did y’all both, or Imran, was it just you that got to play Street Fighter VI with…Justin Wong, was it?

Imran: Only Michael did.

Jordan: Only Michael, sorry, sorry.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: How is that game? Like, one, how was playing against like somebody who’s been in the FGC for like 20 solid years? [laughter] And then, two, how is Street Fighter VI?

Michael: Well, I played like four matches with Justin Wong, and then I played against Imran for four matches. I didn’t have much luck either way, like Imran whooped my ass too, but…

Imran: You won a couple of those rounds, I think.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah. As long as I play as Luke, the problematic white boy. [laughter] Yeah. Well, the thing about Justin is he was like experimenting with the game too, and [Jordan: “Mm-hmm”] I was like, “Hey man, listen, go all out.” I’m capturing footage, so I’m like, hey, go all out, please, ’cause I just want to make sure I have good gameplay. But yeah, it’s pretty wild to be next to– like, I know this dude’s a legend. This is a multi, like…this dude’s won multiple championships playing Street Fighter, and he’s just like experimenting and stuff, so it was kind of…it was like this weird feeling of like, oh yeah, I’m just gonna keep my cool, whatever. My problem was that—if you watch the footage back—the first couple matches, I had the casual controls on, the modern controls, which completely changes the control scheme.

Jordan: Oh, right.

Imran: Right, right.

Michael: No idea like what was– I was legitimately like, what the fuck is going on? Like, why are these…? And then after a couple matches, like, “Hey, you got the modern control set.” I’m like, ah, yeah, that’s why, that’s why, that’s why. [laughter] Yeah. Ran it back. Still no luck, but I was– if anything, once he started getting me in a combo string, I was just like watching him like in my peripheral vision and paying attention to how the game was moving. ‘Cause like, for me, who’s just getting his ass whooped and I know I’m gonna get my ass whooped, I’m like trying to break down like, oh, okay, this is how he’s playing this game. This is how he’s controlling Chun-Li, and these are how the mechanics– how I think the mechanics are working in this game. So it was kind of eye-opening to see someone at a high level play this game that hasn’t even been out yet.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: So I think it’s a very fascinating experience, especially in a preview stage.

Imran: Like, if you watch the video, like I thought we played pretty well, but like compared to Justin Wong…

Michael: [laughs quietly] No.

Imran: Like, you look at it and the other one, it’s like watching someone do stunts on a motorcycle and then like watching someone fall over on a tricycle. [laughter]

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Imran: But like, it’s also funny. None of the comments on the video are making fun of us, which is good.

Jordan: Mm.

Michael: Yes. [laughter]

Imran: Because like, we could have been made fun of very easily.

Michael: Easy. We were easy targets. [laughter]

Imran: But most of the comments are about “Oh, I don’t like the commentary. I wish I could turn it off,” which is like, we turned it off several times in that video. [laughter]

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: People kind of just don’t pay attention to that stuff, I guess. Like, they were more there to see Justin Wong play, which he played super well.

Michael: Yeah, and so, listen, less heat on my back, so I’m cool with that. [laughter] But like, and what’s funny is that we played– Imran and I played Street Fighter VI. It was like the first day we were there, so we took care of that first things first, and then we watched the Street Fighter top 8 a couple days later on Sunday, and just the difference in seeing Street Fighter VI in motion, getting hands on with it, and then watching Street Fighter V and knowing how that game plays.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: I said this before, it feels like it’s night and day.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Like Street Fighter VI already feels like such a vast improvement over five from a visual standpoint but also from a gameplay standpoint, and I think that like the drive gauge in that and like the way you handle meter and the different things you can do with meter in SF6 is much more interesting or I think it’s gonna be much more interesting, ’cause I think it opens you up to various kinds of possibilities. And of course, you know, high level players are gonna break that down whenever we do get a beta or when the game comes out, but I’m already seeing the ways in which this is gonna shake things up, because I feel like SF5 is, you know, you have a couple different things you could do with a certain character and you just try to pull them off. There isn’t– I don’t see much variation in how you play certain characters in that game, and that’s fine. Like, I still think SF5 is a good game, but six just feels like, oh, okay, Street Fighter is starting to open itself up to [“Mm”] other things that we haven’t seen since, like, I don’t know, like 3rd Strike or like Alpha series.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Oh, that’s encouraging.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: 3rd Strike was really the last Street Fighter I connected with, I think.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Jordan: Four and five have just felt progressively like heavier.

Imran: Mm.

Michael: Oh, yeah. Still definitely feels chunky, [Jordan: “Okay”] but good chunky.

Jordan: Good chunky.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Them dudes are wide.

Jordan: Chonky, in fact.

Imran: People really like Kimberly so far, like in terms of like her design, like what they showed in the trailer, and like Juri looks cool too, [“Mm-hmm”] so I’m excited for the new characters. I’m excited for like the rest of this roster. I’m hoping by the time this gets– like, when you look at where Street Fighter V started to where it ended up, like that game kind of tanked its reputation with launch, [“Mm-hmm”] but it ended up as a pretty decent game. Six is starting–

Jordan: Remember when it installed a rootkit on your computer?

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Holy shit.

Imran: They made so many mistakes at launched with that thing.

Michael: Yeah.

Imran: But like, six is starting from a seemingly very good place. I’m eager to see where it improves from there.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Jordan: Has Capcom said anything about how they’re handling net code for it yet?

Imran: Oh, they said they’re not…

Jordan: They’re not having net code.

Imran: No– [laughter] You guys talk for a second, ’cause I know they said something. I need to look it up.

Michael: Okay. All right.

Jordan: Okay, cool. ‘Cause, Michael, did you play much Street Fighter V online?

Michael: No. No.

Jordan: Okay, yeah. I bought it on sale on Steam and put like maybe 20 minutes into it, and the people I was playing against were moving back and forth really quickly to purposefully lag out the session so that they could throw fireballs at me.

Michael: Oh my God. That sucks.

Jordan: And that I would have less of a chance to do anything about it. It was like genuinely unplayable.

Michael: Yeah. I’m 1000% sure Capcom had learned from those mistakes.

Jordan: I really hope so. Like, what…

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Have they put out a fighting game since five? They put out that Darkstalkers collection. Does that have online in it?

Michael: I don’t know, actually.

Jordan: I don’t know either.

Michael: But I feel like, these days, having good rollback, ’cause like, there’s…rollback needs to be good too.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: Like, that’s just the starting point, but you need to have good rollback net code, and I think–

Jordan: Right.

Michael: I feel like nowadays, that, you know, the online nature of things, like I think that COVID and like having EVO and a lot of these fighting game tournaments having to resort to being held online, really highlighted the importance of having good net code

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: So I can’t imagine– I imagine like Capcom’s gonna pull a lot of resources off from the bat, and like Dragon Ball FighterZ got their rollback announcement, and people were hype off that, because [“Mm-hmm”] a lot of people have felt like Dragon Ball FighterZ is borderline unplayable online.

Jordan: It gets tough.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: And, ArcSys has, with Strive, they’ve proven that their rollback tech is very strong.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: I played against people with extremely high pings and had like a…it wasn’t great, but like, it was perfectly acceptable.

Michael: Yeah. Yeah, I’d be playing…yeah.

Jordan: Yeah. And almost every instance of like a regular match is flawless. So, I don’t know anything about like how large of a task it is to backport [Michael: “Mm-hmm”] that new tech into their older titles, especially ones that they didn’t publish themselves. But once that goes live, I’ll probably reinstall FighterZ and see what I can– see how much of an improvement there is.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Imran: So, regarding Street Fighter VI, what they have said is it’s not the same system as SF5.

Michael: Okay.

Imran: They are rebuilding it. In an interview with IGN, they said rollback net code. They used those words.

Michael: Yes.

Jordan: Okay.

Imran: But that IGN interview was taken down.

Jordan: Okay?

Michael: What?

Imran: So maybe Capcom was like, Hey, we’re not committing to that quite yet, [“Uh huh”] or maybe it’s an announcement down the line, but they used those words, but seemingly it was removed later.

Jordan: Maybe Capcom said something way worse or different in that interview, [Imran laughs, “Maybe”] and that’s why they took it down.

Imran: Maybe it was like, “This will have rollback net code. Also, I firmly believe that we should be stomping kittens.”

Jordan: Yeah.

Imran: And they’re like, “Whoa, hold up.”

Michael: Like, hey, whoa, whoa, whoa, chill, chill, chill.

Imran: Like, the reason I was struggling with that was like, what do I say that doesn’t actually sound terr– [laughter] like, that is cartoonishly bad and not just like…

Michael: Right. Not actually bad.

Imran: Real life bad.

Jordan: [laughs] Yeah.

Michael: We are.

Jordan: The line is real blurry these days.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Between cartoonishly bad and actually real life bad.

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. I mean, I hope so, ’cause like, to survive nowadays, you have to have rollback.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Good net code, at least.

Imran: Which like, everyone was announcing that at EVO.

Michael: Yeah. It’s like that’s a testament to how important it is.

Jordan: My fear– my one– my shirt that says One Fear on it is about Capcom just thinking like, well, it’s Street Fighter. It’s gonna be main stage at EVO, even if the net code is bad, like final fan– final fantasy. [“Whoa!”] Like Street Fighter V was. [laughter] And that it won’t be a priority for them, but it sounds like that’s not the case. It sounds like–

Imran: I think they realized how bad five’s was, like they’ve been told repeatedly five’s is bad. And I also think they know if they don’t make six hit in all the ways it needs to hit, Project L is gonna eat their lunch.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Project L is the League fighting game.

Imran: Yes.

Jordan: Is that right?

Imran: Yes. That is the game they’re worried about.

Jordan: Uh, Rising Thunder? Is that what that was?

Imran: Rising Thunder was the robot-based like version that the Cannons made before that.

Jordan: Right.

Imran: Like that was the game they made, and then they got bought by Riot, and then they ended development on that game and started working on Project L.

Jordan: And that was Seth Killian and his crew, right?

Imran: Yes.

Michael: Ah, yeah.

Imran: The Cannons who were also…not in charge of EVO, but used to be in charge of EVO and still hold [“Right”] like a lot of influence within EVO, which is among the reasons Capcom is worried about it.

Jordan: Interesting. Okay.

Michael: Yeah, yeah. Seth Killian. I remember I went to his going away when he moved to the other side of the country where they’re making that game. And I was like, “Oh, interesting that you’re moving there. Huh.”

Jordan: Hmm. Hmm!

Michael: And then it’s like, yeah, something something something Riot Games. [laughter]

Imran: But I suspect that is one of the reasons that Street Fighter was not the finale this year is because, in a year or two, they’re going to probably put Project L in that finale slot.

Michael: Well…

Jordan: Interesting.

Michael: Yeah, it’s also the number of registrants influences where games are placed in the schedule.

Imran: Influences, but doesn’t always determine. Like, Smash has been the number one for a while.

Michael: Smash has always had the highest entrants, though.

Imran: Yeah. And then like, Street Fighter still closed the show. So like, I mean, there’s other reasons to it. It was possible that they wanted to put Street Fighter in prime time. They wanted to put the announcements in prime time as well.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Imran: So like, it might not just be like a, “We’ll just slightly push this back” thing, but…

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Imran: My conspiracy brain is going like, no, they’re prepping the ground for something else to take the place in case six does not hit like five didn’t.

Michael: Yeah. Regardless, it’s like, you know, I think Project L is like the elephant in the room, where everyone’s kind of anticipating what that ends up being, when it’s gonna come out, what state it’s in. So, I don’t know. I feel like that could shake up the state of EVO, I guess, in a weird way, ’cause like, if it’s going free-to-play [“Mm-hmm”] and it’s drawing in a completely different audience, because, you know, people who pay attention to League, there’s a lot of those people.

Jordan: Yes.

Imran: And people just watched Arcane and like want to play as those characters.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: How do y’all foresee the League community and the FGC getting along? [Imran laughs]

Michael: Oh man, I don’t know. That’s a good question.

Imran: Not at all.

Jordan: It seems totally incompatible, right?

Imran: I mean, like–

Jordan: ‘Cause League is better than it used to be, but it’s still a pretty rough place to like interact with other human beings.

Imran: Do you remember how mad Dragon Ball fans were when FighterZ came out? And like, people were like, “Oh, you’re just spamming block.” Which is like, no, that’s not how that worked. [laughter] Like, people didn’t– like a lot Dragon Ball fans just didn’t like that game, because fighting game fans did, [“Mm-hmm”] in that they were very good at that game, and people who are very good online means you’re gonna have a bad time if you’re not.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah.

Jordan: Well, and fighting game people also convinced them or Dragon Ball people also convinced themselves that the Budokai games were good.

Imran: Mm, yeah.

Jordan: Right? So they were coming from–

Imran: They’re not batting a thousand, yeah. [Michael laughs]

Jordan: No, they were coming with a completely different set of expectations.

Michael: Yeah. I don’t know. I think…well, there’s obviously gonna be a lot of high level fighting game players who are gonna get into it for various reasons.

Jordan: Mm-hmm.

Michael: I mean, I’m sure that they also dabble in League or they just like, hey, that’s the newest, hottest fighting game, so like, I’m sure folks like Sonic Fox, they’re gonna try it out and be like, wow, I want to get good at this because it’s gonna…it’s popping, and it’s gonna be the biggest thing in the scene. So I imagine like a lot of high level players are probably gonna be from the FGC itself, but maybe the…I don’t know, maybe hide your Twitch chats more [quiet laughter] when Project L‘s being played or whatever. I don’t know.

Jordan: Yeah.

Michael: It’s hard to predict, because I don’t know if like the League hardcore fans are gonna like mob deep to something like EVO [Imran: “Mm-hmm, yeah”] or Combo Breaker to watch Project L, unless they’re like really invested in the game itself, so–

Imran: On the other hand, again, the Guilty Gear champ was a former competitive Overwatch player.

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: That’s right.

Imran: So like, if you want to make the leap to fighting games, there’s precedent.

Jordan: You can do it.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah, you’re right. You’re right. Yeah, yeah.

Jordan: Yeah. And like, which isn’t to say that like the FGC doesn’t have its own share of bad chat rooms, right?

Michael: Of course.

Jordan: Online FGC interactions can be very different from like hanging out with people at a local arcade or going to a show like this.

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, yeah.

Jordan: So, before we wrap up, I wanted to ask you both what the best match that you saw during the show was, and it could be main stage, it could be side stage, it could be DDR against Juri, like whatever. [laughter] Imran, do you want to go first?

Imran: Uh, I think it was probably iDom versus Daigo, because like there’s no reason– I fully expected like that would at least be a struggle, if not Daigo just coming away with it, ’cause Daigo’s a legend. He’s a legend, and like Laura versus Guile feels like it should be in Guile’s favor.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: And I, like watching that match, it was a close match. Like, it was every moment of, okay, this is gonna be the time that Daigo downloads him, and I think Daigo did download him, he just couldn’t deal with it. He couldn’t figure out what to do about iDom’s bread and butter combos. So like, you’re watching and like Daigo would fight back and make his way through and win the round, and it just ended on this like very perfect note of, yeah, the…it’s not that Daigo is going away anywhere. It’s that he will be, I’m sure, part of SF6. He’ll be part of EVOs for time, like, years to come. But that felt like very much a passing of the torch moment.

Michael: Yep. Yep.

Jordan: Hmm.

Imran: Of this is the transition to the new generation of fighting game players. Like, when this person who has been responsible for EVO Moment 37, was that what it is?

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Imran: Like, for the Chun-Li Ken parry scene.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like, the guy responsible for that like took it to the mat with iDom, who is barely out of college. [laughter] Like, it’s such a…watching it in real time and watching it like from the side of the stage was this moment of: okay, I feel like this is a thing that 10 years from now, we’ll be talking about, “Do you remember that time that iDom beat Daigo?”

Michael: Yeah.

Jordan: Michael?

Michael: Yeah, that’s definitely up there, because like when you’re watching it in the moment, you don’t really think about its significance in the broader scale, you just kind of get lost in the sauce and like getting, like, “Ah, I can’t believe that just happened!” ’cause like the show must go on, the next match, players gotta get off stage. They gotta bring in the new players. But now I reflect on it, I’m like, damn, that is kind of a significant moment in Street Fighter history. I would have to say that even though it ended in heartbreak, I think that the…I would actually say the iDom reset in the grand finals, because he did, that was something he won, was absolutely wild.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: I was like…I think he may have been down a match, and I think it may have been getting away from him a little bit, if I recall correctly, but him seizing the grand finals and like it going 2/2 after the reset final, it was like, if he won that, that would’ve been like a storybook tale for ages. That would’ve been like one of the most incredible FGC stories ever, would’ve been Street Fighter history, but he just came up just a little short.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: He was just like one combo away. But still, like, I’m never gonna forget that feeling [Jordan: “Mm-hmm”] of being there and just like the intensity, the nervousness of just like watching that final, final round. And it was like, yeah, this is only…you’re only gonna get this at high level fighting games.

Imran: If one thing had gone differently in that final round, he would’ve won the entire thing.

Michael: Yeah. He would’ve been…

Imran: Like, if he had just like, ’cause right before he lost, he whiffed a super, and I think that’s…

Michael: Yes.

Imran: Even if he had like gotten mostly through chip damage, I think he would’ve still gotten it, but it gives him like– I was talking to him before the match, and he was like, “Once I beat EVO, that’s it. Like, there’s no more mountains to climb.”

Mm.

Imran: So at least this gives him something for next year. [laughter]

Yeah.

Imran: Like, it gives him a motivation. If it’s SF5 or SF6, we don’t know when six is coming out yet, but like, whatever it is, I think he will probably make a run of it, and I think my money’s probably on him.

Michael: Yeah, definitely. He’s definitely got like either a target on his back or all the eyes are watching him, for like the next EVO. And because it wasn’t…it was not at all a fluke, because he, again, like you said, he had to beat Daigo. Tokido was a favorite, and gachikun who was close to claiming the winner’s finals, he had to beat him as well to make it to the grand finals and got the reset. Like, he did everything, everything you could possibly ask of a player, except get that final, final round. So next year, next time around, it’s like, oh, okay, now he’s gonna finish the deal, and I’m excited for that moment.

Jordan: Awesome. Well, real quick, before I let y’all go, I thought of something else. And I’ll cut this out, you don’t have to say it if you don’t want to.

Michael: Okay.

Jordan: Do you have fighting game names? And if so, what are they? Because none of these people just use their real names.

Michael: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Right, right. You know what’s funny? is that the second place Tekken 7 player, [Imran laughs] he goes by Khan. He represents Pakistan, and his first name, I found out, is Imran. [laughs]

Imran: Yeah.

Jordan: Really?

Michael: He goes by Khan, but his first name is Imran. [laughs]

Imran: So, I have this in my Google alerts that don’t work, because there’s so many people with the name Imran Kahn.

Michael: Mm-hmm.

Imran: So I have to like narrow it down to, okay, if it’s about gaming, like alert me with Google. So I got a bunch of Google alerts like, yeah, Imran Kahn was like second place in Tekken. I’m like, what? Okay. [laughter] I was there. I don’t remember participating.

Michael: So you would be Khan2.

Jordan: Khan2.

Imran: I mean, I’m older, but he’s better looking, so.

Michael: Khan0.

Imran: Yeah. Khan0, like Yakuza 0, yeah. I’m fine with that.

Michael: [laughs] Yeah, the prequel.

Imran: Yeah.

Michael: Ah, man, for me…I don’t really, I don’t know. I don’t know what I would go by.

Jordan: Hmm.

Michael: Huh.

Jordan: Well, you got a whole year to think about it.

Michael: Yes. When I compete next year and make it to the Melty Blood top 8, if there’s still Melty or if there’s a new version of Under Night, let’s go, baby.

Jordan: Mm-hmm. Hopefully all the blood won’t have melted before EVO next year. Imran, Michael, thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk to me for a little bit.

Michael: Of course.

Imran: Thanks for having us.

[music]

Jordan: Well, folks, that’s it for this week. Thank you for joining me, and thank you to my special guests, Imran and Michael, for being the great, great, great, great guys that they are. You can follow Michael on Twitter @michaelphigham, and you can follow Imran on Twitter @imranzomg. You can follow me, your interim host, @jordan_mallory, and you can follow our regular host, John Warren, @floppyadult, if he lets you pass the iron gate. Today’s episode was produced by yours truly, but normally this show is produced by Paul Tamayo, who can be found on Twitter at P-O-L-I-M-A-Y-O, that’s @polimayo. And as for you, wherever you happen to find yourself: have a good day, and you’re welcome.

Author: Brandon Murphy