The fighting game community is growing at an exponential rate right now. What was once just a bunch of gamers keeping a dwindling franchise alive is now spreading into the minds of all gamers. There are a lot of common names you’ll hear when fighting games are discussed. Daigo, Justin Wong, Combofiend, or Clockwork are all immediately referenced when Marvel vs. Capcom or Street Fighter is mentioned.
There are a lot of new gamers interested in the fighting game community and some may not know the name Loren Riley, more commonly known as ‘Fanatiq’. He’s been around for a long time and made a name for himself in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 not only because of his skill, but because he was one of the few, if not the only player to use a controller instead of an arcade stick.
Being a smart and confident player does have its benefits and his skill brought him several high ranking finishes at past EVO events. Fanatiq is no scrub when it comes to the games and he was nice enough to take time out of his schedule to answer several questions about EVO, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and his choice to use a controller over an arcade stick.
EVO 2k11 has just ended and there were definitely some upsets and some even bigger surprises. Naturally, Fanatiq was there to compete along with some of the other great names in fighting games.
“In the tournament I performed pretty well. I made a very obvious blunder against Combofiend.” Fanatiq stated when asked how he felt about his performance at EVO 2k11. “He’s such a great guy and he’s been really mature about befriending me despite previous tension, so it’s hard to have that killer instinct going into a match against him. I believe I’m capable of much better than 18th place or whatever it was, but I guess I’ll just have to hold that in my chest for a while. Money matches, however, were a great success and that was my main motivation for EVO.”
Money matches in Marvel have been around since Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and really elevates the competitive feel in a match. In a conversation I had with Fanatiq, he told me that at this year’s EVO alone, he made over $1,000 in money matches. Though he didn’t reach his desired placement at EVO, it seems that he still came out on top. The money he made this year is nothing compared to the $50,000 money match he won back in Marvel vs. Capcom 2.
Fanatiq is clearly not afraid of anybody and even challenged world renowned player, Daigo, to a money match. Daigo made quite a splash at EVO before the tournament even began, thanks to a video stating that he’d be entering the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (also known as “Vanilla”) tournament for the first time at EVO 2k11. “I was salty with that video, so I responded with one of my own and money matched him in the salty suite.” Fanatiq stated. He then followed up and said he’ll post the video “soon enough.” It wasn’t all negativity about Daigo though; Fanatiq also said that he “did amazing for just now getting into the game.”
With EVO now being over for a few weeks, players can now look forward to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (UMvC3), an upgraded version of the fighting game that just came out in February. It’s been met with mixed reactions by just about everyone primarily because Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is still a considerably new game and to already abandon it seems a bit soon for a lot of players. Fanatiq’s opinion on the game makes him “more nervous than excited.” He made a lengthy blog post about Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Vanilla and it states that he more or less has the same feelings about the upcoming title, except that he’s more “open minded.”
“MvC3 is my new money maker. Who knows, maybe I’ll suck at UMvC3. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 not only comes with character buffs and nerfs, new functionality, and new stages; it also comes with a variety of new characters such as Marvel’s Iron Fist, Rocket Raccoon, and oddly enough, Capcom’s favorite lawyer, Phoenix Wright.
The announcements of the aforementioned characters were supposed to be a secret, but they were leaked almost immediately after the unveiling of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Most would be looking forward to the new characters, but not Fanatiq is more concerned about his current team. “I’m most excited to use Magneto, Storm and Sentinel. I know Capcom nerfed Magneto and Sentinel in some ways but I want to try to make them work. Maybe it’s the defiance in me, but when everyone told me the team wouldn’t work, I went on a mission to prove that it can. I’m sure people will be dropping them even more now that they’ve been nerfed in some pretty heavy ways, but I want to try to make them work still.”
Perhaps he’ll have a change of heart when he sees more character gameplay or gets his hands on the newly acquired characters. He, like most people, is looking forward to the red winged dragon Firebrand. Stating that he really liked how Firebrand looked and that he would be a character to choose if he were to drop a player from his team. Though that may seem unlikely because he claims he will only drop a character only if they cease to work for him or until he’s clicked with new ones.
If the inclusion of a specific character were to be included though, he’d easily pick her up. “I wish Psylocke made the cut.” Fanatiq said when asked if he wished any characters made it into UMvC3. “Many said I had the best Psylocke in the world in MvC2. Akuma plays a lot like she did, but it just isn’t the same… I want my Psylocke back. Next, I think Megaman would have fit UMvC3 really well.”
He like so many other players still wonders why Megaman wasn’t included in the upcoming fighting game. It’s caused quite a stir in the community especially after the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3.
If you’ve ever seen the top players duke it out in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 you’ll notice a bit of a trend in character selection. Odds are you’ll see Wesker, Wolverine, Taskmaster, Phoenix, and She-Hulk for example. Those five characters only make up a small percentage of the entire roster but are widely used because they are good characters. With the addition of 12 new fighters variety should increase significantly right? Not always Fanatiq thinks. Though he doesn’t utilize any of those characters, he thinks that players will need some motivation to use them.
“I don’t use any of those characters so I’m not sure how much people have bonded with them. I think strong tournament players will only switch with an incentive. If the new characters are very strong or if the current characters are weakened considerably, people will switch to what they think will give them the best results. I’m going to try my best to stick with old faithful”.
Not only are characters different, but some of the game’s functionality has changed as well. Most notable is the ability to activate X-Factor in the air now. Fans already don’t like the comeback ability with X-Factor because of how strong and fast the characters become. Fanatiq is more open-minded about the new X-Factor possibilities though. He’s confident that that Capcom has “rebalanced it so it’s much better than Vanilla” though he personally hasn’t seen too much of it yet. The glowing red character buff is an integral part of the gameplay for both Vanilla and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and whether you love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.
Another aspect of Capcom’s exceedingly popular fighter is how gamers play the game. The arcade stick, which consists of a joystick and six to eight face buttons, is the accessory of choice when fighting against other players. Fanatiq sets himself apart from the crowd however and prefers to utilize something quite unconventional…
What was assumed to be a blasphemous act to all fighters turned out to be quite an advantage for Fanatiq. “Many people underestimate me” he stated. “People who don’t know me, see the pad, think I’m bad and therefore money match me. I’d say the pad is easily the cause of about 30% of the money that I’ve made from fighting games.” In a way, the controller has done all the hustling for him. He brought up an interview he had on The Dogface Show and said quite confidently that he uses the presence of the pad (controller) to his advantage.
Not only does using the pad cause other players to underestimate you but when you play well, you also earn an insurmountable amount of respect “I’ve earned the respect of the top players by using the pad when it was a completely unheard of thing to be competitive with it.” Simply, Fanatiq is just more comfortable with the controller.
Despite what you choose to play the game with, playing like Fanatiq doesn’t just come naturally. “Practice very hard, and study the engine. Beyond execution, I know the engines of MvC2 and MvC3 better than most competitive players out there” Fanatiq declared. Practicing is a given, but studying the engine is something that separates top players from the lower skilled hopefuls. “There is a lot to consider in the VS series games because so much is happening. If I understood the push-block mechanic more, the Combofiend situation at EVO wouldn’t have happened the way it did. Learn how to manipulate the engine to put your opponent in really bad situations. If you don’t know the engine, you can’t calculate.”
With a mindset like that, you can expect to see Fanatiq placing high at several tournaments in the near future. You can follow Fanatiq’s antics on Youtube, Twittter and add him as a friend on Facebook.
Images courtesy of Andre Butler.