The fighting game community (FGC) has grown from holding local events to smaller venues to occupying ballrooms at four-star establishments with talent from all across the globe attending. Major sponsors such as Capcom, Namco Bandai, and others are responsible for the development of some of the world’s most famous franchises in gaming, and are showcased at a central tournament featuring the top fighting talent from across the world. With major prize pools, fighting games are now reaching a platform that can be compared to traditional eSports.
Each week, I’ll be posting interviews I’ve had the pleasure of conducting with members of the fighting game community. The interviews will touch upon their history in the FGC, where they got their start, and what they’d like to see from video games in general.
This weeks guest is a man who’s widely considered as one of the few Dhalsim players in the United States: Daniel Lehmann a.k.a. AG LuckyD.
Kash: Thank you for joining me today, please introduce yourself to the Broken Joysticks readers.
LuckyD: Hi Guys! My name is Daniel Lehmann, AKA AG LuckyD. I’m a fighting game player from the Boston area, and I support the New England area as much as possible. I’m also a sponsored player with the Fighting Game Team Always Godlike.
Kash: A fighter’s tag is like their identity. Some would rather use their name and some nicknames; how did you decide what yours will be?
LuckyD: Well, I actually don’t think I’m lucky at all lol. I had to just rush a name when I created a forum name on SRK, and LuckyD just kind of came out. Obviously it’s not the WORST name ever, so I’ve kept it and love it.
Kash: How would you say you got your first start in the FGC?
LuckyD: I actually started off going to a arcade on the east coast called Tokyo Game Action in 2007. TGA WAS the non NY Fighting game scene. It had head to head candy cabs, SBO qualifiers, top players like Nestor, Smooth Cat, Gavni. It was the messiah of fighting games. I had always watched Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike videos from the west coast, but had no idea there was something that close to my home. When I found it I was introduced to the fighting game community and was HOOKED.
Kash: Which game(s) are you most known for playing and what character(s) do you use?
LuckyD: I first played 3s Ken, and was TERRIBLE haha (although I still think I’m pretty
bad). But I had no fundamentals, no defense and no patience. So before Street Fighter 4 even DROPPED I told myself, I’m going to play Dhalsim, and learn how to play defensively. Ever since then I’ve been playing nothing but Sim and I love it. I wouldn’t play anyone else.
Kash: We don’t see many people pick up Dhalsim (only other Dhalsim I can think of is F.Champ). What made you decide on picking him about the other characters on the roster? Was it for the pure defense mindset?
LuckyD: Yes! I just wanted to build my defense up. it was NOT a long term idea. But playing fighting games for years now, my strength as a player is definitely my reactions, and Sim really shines to a player with that style. Sim works for me and I work for Sim, so its kind of a perfect fit.
Kash: Tell us more about Always Godlike.
LuckyD: Always Godlike is a East Coast Fighting game team. We’re mainly a Street Fighter 4 team, as we travel across the country entering tournaments, representing Madcatz and our other sponsors. But mainly, we’re a group of guys and girls who love Street Fighter, competing, meeting players and love the community.
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Kash: Do you think other people in the FGC like their characters because they like them, or because they need to use them based on the current tiers and meta game?
LuckyD: I think it’s really clear who are the character specialists and who are the players who play based on tiers. That being said, I’m not a low tier hero, nor do I care about tiers. I’m a big advocate for playing who you like and working at that. Tournaments are based on 2 out of 3s, so match ups (while important) aren’t AS DETRIMENTAL to a characters.
Kash: The FGC has been slowly evolving from something small to big as time continues to move. We are starting to see growth in numbers at venues. Do you feel the FGC is at the same level as eSports?
LuckyD: I mean I honestly think fighting games are the third biggest eSport out there (obviously behind League of Legends and StarCraft 2). But that being said, it has some of the BEST storylines, drama and overall hype moments. At majors, so many matches occur on the big stage (more than the other games) that upsets occur ALL THE TIME.
Kash: How difficult do you think it is for a new person to enter the community and feel welcomed?
LuckyD: On a local level, I run most of the MA community at our local venue GameUnderground. Part of my job as a tournament organizer is bringing new players at our local scene. And I won’t lie, when I first joined, it was rough. It used to be a cut throat community, and a cut throat mentality. But since then, its changed, and now its a lot more of a friendly and community driven group. And it’s awesome to introduce players to the scene, get them hungry, get them to enter locals, majors and eventually EVO.
Kash: How nervous do you get during a tournament match?
LuckyD: Like everyone, I used to get really nervous. Honestly, if you ever meet me and watch me play in tournaments, I have a routine when I play. I hit the buttons hard and in a very specific order, shake my head up and down, and basically shake out the nerves. And basically, it gets me loose and relaxed, especially when I play players who I think are better then me.
Kash: While it’s something that’s been going on for a while, what’s your take on pot splitting? Should there be ramifications for doing it? Do you believe players are insulting fans, their previous opponents and their sponsors in doing so?
LuckyD: Well on a personal note, I think it’s super important for players to meet the obligations of the hype. As a TO, nothing is more of a buzz kill then a pot split grand finals and people playing at 50%. In MA, a common practice is top two players will privately split the pot, and have grand finals be a money match for a small percentage of the pot (something like $50). That way, bot parties get a portion of the pot, but they still play for something that matters, which leads to an entertaining finals. I wish more players would adopt that practice, I think its the best of both worlds.
Kash: Other than fighting games, what other styles of games do you play?
LuckyD: I used to be a Halo scrub, and a casual NBA 2k series player, but honestly they all bore me now in comparison to the depth and community fighting games have to offer.
Kash: What is your current system of choice and which system do you see yourself using for the next generation since at this point Wii U is out and about 50% of the PS4 and Xbox One has been revealed to us?
LuckyD: I definetly prefer Xbox over PS3 for obvious reasons. If PS3 had a better online service, I’d consider using the PS3 more, but XBL is just so strong. I’m taking a wait and see approach, but I’m hoping Capcom or any other AAA fighter actually DOES NOT come out on one of the new systems for some time. The logistics of running a major on either of those systems are going to be a NIGHTMARE I’m sure all the US TOs including myself have been pondering ways to get around the system limitations, but it is going to most certainly going to be a challenge.
Kash: With the current release of Injustice: Gods Among Us, and all of its unique features in a fighter, how do you think the FGC will treat it? Will you consider picking it up?
LuckyD: I play Injustice, and enjoy it! I played Superman since his zoning looked strong. I think people like it cause its FRESH and NEW. Plus, the game mechanics are fun and the execution barrier is pretty low, its a great game to learn without having to spend HOURS in the lab.
Kash: Do you think the game will help evolve the fighting game genre? NetherRealm is constantly trying to add life to the genre; do you think other companies are taking notice?
LuckyD: I do! Like I said, it’s a brand new and fresh game, and that’s always a positive toward the community. The big question I think a lot of people are asking is what’s next? The tournament scene is still strong, but I know players are starting to burn out, and it’s harder and harder to find new players. So whats the next step in growing our scene.
Kash: If you could grab any character from one game and put them in any other game, who would you pick, where would you place them and why?
LuckyD: Hahaha that’s an easy question. I think I’d honestly love to play Sim in every fighting game from now on, and that’s what I plan to do.
Kash: In this segment, I’m going to name two different characters, series, etc., and just tell me which one you’d pick over the other one.
Kash: Liu Kang or Ryu?
Kash: Probably an easy one for you but, Dhalsim or Anakaris?
LuckyD: haha no comment :p You figure that one out <3
Kash: Terry and Andy Bogard or Yun and Yang?
LuckyD: Oh man…..I guess Terry and Andy.
Kash: Probably a classic from the DC vs. Marvel comics, Lobo or Wolverine?
LuckyD: haha Wolverine, I’m a sap for the heroes.
Kash: Final one, Superman, Batman, Captain America and Spiderman have a battle royal, who will come out on top?
LuckyD: Superman, no question and don’t give me this Batman can outsmart him crap haha.
Kash: What’s your top three favorite games of all time?
LuckyD: hmm, at this point its probably Street Fighter 4, Super Mario RPG and Halo 2. The classics.
Kash: Any upcoming tournaments that you’ll be attending?
LuckyD: I’ll be at EVO! I am Also attending our major GUTS in Boston. My local venue is running it, and I’ll obviously working with them, as well as with Team Spooky.
Kash: With stream sites like Twitch becoming the easiest gateway for people to view the community and players in action, is there any particular stream were people may see you play outside of a tournament setting?
LuckyD: www.twitch.tv/alwaysgodlike is my team’s stream, and www.twitch.tv/pandaxgaming is the online people our team works with they are the best!
Kash: Any last words for the Broken Joysticks reader as well as any way for them to contact you with any questions they might have?
LuckyD: The Fighting Game Scene is the best one around! It’s by far the best community to work with, the most hype and by far the most fun! Thank you for the interview, and I’ll continue to do my best! Follow me on twitter! @fortunatedaniel Bring the hype man!!