Second Dimension: The Warriors Code Interview

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 week’s guest is a member of the legion of Zero May Cry, Cole Tocci aka CTRL Flux.

*credit for Flux’s image goes to Simon Zachary Chetrit *

Kash: Thank you so much for joining me today, please introduce yourself to the Broken Joysticks readers.

Flux: Hi guys! I’m Cole “Flux” Tocci, representing Control (CTRL) and New York City, and I’m mostly known for playing Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Kash: I know you joined up with your current teammates when they were part of Maximum Hype. Now that team was disbanded and recreated as Control. What caused the change in name, did you lose/gain members and how did you first come to join the group?.

Flux: I first became a member of Maximum Hype by my friendship with RayRay and Alukard. I’d known them for a little over a year, and we grew to become good friends and training partners, so joining up with them felt like a perfect fit for me. We were joined in March by our friends from Maryland, Pzpoy and IGT Unknown, two other outstanding Marvel players, and DJ Nintendo, a dominant member of the NYC Melee scene. After Evo, the players and management had a bit of a disagreement regarding the future of the team, and we decided to go a different direction. We founded Control in late August, sponsored by Fight Aesthetic, and things have so far gone fantastically! We’ve also added Trix, a UMVC3 player representing us in Malaysia; Darrell Moreno, a consistent Pokemon TCG player; and The Moon, one of the strongest Melee players in New York.

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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?

Flux: When I bought my first TE stick in 2009, I had some custom art made up for it in the style of the Vewlix cabinets in Japan, but with a purple and black color scheme. I was a big MvC2 Magneto fan, and I loved the purple and black color scheme. Since I was studying physics at the time, I saw the term “magnetic flux” and put “Flux Edition” at the bottom of the stick. Soon enough, I was just known as Flux at our sessions (you can imagine the puns!). Coincidentally, some years later, CTRL’s color scheme is also purple and black. Its nice when things come full circle!

Kash: What fighters do you current play professionally and which character(s) do you use in them?

Flux: I currently play UMVC3, Injustice, and I’m learning Killer Instinct. I play Zero/Vergil/Dante (AKA Zero May Cry) in Marvel, Killer Frost in Injustice, and Sadira in KI.

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Kash: What about Killer Frost and Sadira in their respective games made you want to play them over the rest of the roster?

Flux: For KF, at the beginning, I was going to play Green Lantern. I understood the character really well, liked his tools, and was having success with him, but he was really boring to play! I decided to just go to character select, and play a character based entirely on the graphical design. I really like ice-based characters in a lot of games, so Killer Frost stood out to me. As she was one of the last characters announced for the game, no one knew too much about her or how she played either. I decided I would pick her up on the side. At Civil War, the first Injustice major, my Green Lantern got wasted first round, and I decided I would just pick KF for the rest of the tournament no matter what. I managed to get to losers semis, which was alot better than what I thought with a character I didn’t put much time into. So I just decided to stick with her. Sadira, on the other hand, was a total no-brainer. I was a Juri player in SF4, so the idea of a spider-based female villain sold me from the get. Once I saw how she could control the air, and the nasty situations I could put people in with her Web Trap Instinct, I knew that I had made a good decision.

Kash: What is your highest placing currently at a tournament?

Flux: At a major, I think my best performance was this year at Summer Jam 7, where I placed 4th, losing to my teammate RayRay in Loser’s Semifinals.

Kash: Online play is something that many of the top players in the FGC prefer not to do or do it in secret. Do you feel online play is good and some players just don’t take advantage or do you think online play teaches too many bad habits that won’t help in a tournament setting?

Flux: I think there are certain things that you can learn in an online environment with strong netcode that carry over very well to offline tournament play. Online play exposes you to a variety of players that may have very unique setups or mixups that you may not be familiar with. Seeing more of these setups allows you to better defend against them in tournament. That being said, online does teach some bad habits that will get you in trouble, mostly in relation to punishes and reads. Going for maximum damage punishes usually requires a level of precision that, due to input delay online, online players will not go for in the proper situations. Also for me, I find it much more difficult to read my opponent when I’m not in the same room as him, so I find myself going on auto-pilot alot more, which generally impairs my play.

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?

Flux: I think it depends on the person, to be honest. There will always be character specialists and loyalists who exclusively play a single character or team, and the people that are willing to change up as the meta changes. There are some times where the fates align and the character you absolutely want to play more than anything else is also a dominant character in the meta. That happened for me in UMVC3 with Vergil. Though I moved away from him for a time, I was able to come back to him later. That being said, I’m a big believer in doing what it takes to get the win. Coming into UMVC3, I played Magneto/Wesker/Akuma. Within a month I saw that the metagame was going to shift away from Wesker and Akuma, so I moved on and picked up Zero/Dante, since I could saw the potential that Zero had in this game.

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Kash: As of late there’s been this push to get the FGC to eSports level. The community has a variety of colorful personalities as well as hype moments at events. What do you think is currently holding us back?

Flux: The problem with fighting games as eSports is to some degree, also the best thing about fighting games. Fighting games have an incredible degree of depth, and it can often be very difficult to transfer knowledge of that depth to a spectator that may not fully understand why players do what they do. Unlike League of Legends or Starcraft, fighting games have very few lulls in the action for commentators to fill spectators in, and matches are much shorter in general. Our community’s hype and passion is second to none, but it can be difficult for an uninformed, casual viewer to understand why low forward xx Hadouken at that precise moment was such an amazing play. As a result, its hard for us to appeal to a broad market like traditional eSports games.

Kash: Patching fighters is usually on a per company basis and if they currently have the resources with some companies doing it frequently than others. What is your opinion on patching fighters, do we require them frequently or annually?

Flux: I don’t think games should be patched until there’s been ample time to play them, and really learn matchups. In UMVC3, players are just now starting to really internalize team matchups and learning how to counter entire sets of tactics. There are big flaws with the game, things that people have been calling for patches for since the very beginning. If we were to receive knee-jerk patches to the game, we would never truly know what was very strong, since there would rarely be time to hit the lab and figure the little things in matchups that often shape the game. In Injustice, this was kind of a big problem. Many people claimed that Bane was a worthless character before the patch that buffed him, when in reality, he had very strong footsie and okizeme tools that people slept on due to unfamiliarity with the character. When he was buffed, he was put over the top, since developers and the community didn’t know exactly how strong he was.

Kash: Do you think the constant patching is why numbers are dwindling for Injustice or is it getting the SFxT treatment where people just want to forget it exists?

Flux: I think the patching has definitely hurt the game’s turnout. For me, and alot of other players, Injustice isn’t the #1 game I’m traveling for. I’ll enter, but I’m not focused on it. When a game can change that radically from tournament to tournament, it requires you to keep up with the patches and to be continuously in the lab learning new things. I just don’t have nearly the time to do that for a game that isn’t my main game. I’ll still enter, because I enjoy playing, but I can understand why people aren’t willing to keep up.

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Kash: While there is possibly hidden tech we might be overlooking in UMVC3, the fact certain things need to go is still there. If you could patch three things in the game, what would you patch?

Flux: TAC infinites are the first thing. Giving a character like Morrigan, Zero, Vergil, Phoenix etc. 5 bars to play with, while also killing a character and getting an incoming is too much of a risk/reward for relatively easy combos after a 1/3 (or worse with glitches) guess. Something needs to be done about the top 3’s “My Turn” supers as well (Sougenmu, Astral Vision, Spiral Swords). Spending a bar shouldn’t equal complete dominance of neutral game with no real downside. XF3 probably needs to be toned down a little bit as well, especially with characters like Vergil and Strider wreaking havoc on the game.

Kash: How difficult do you think it is for a new person to enter the community and feel welcome, from your experiences? Also how open are you for people to come to you for advice, guidance or to play a set?

Flux: For me, I found the FGC very welcoming when I was first starting out. I’d call next, play my matches, and talk to people while waiting for my next time through the rotation. After a few times, I’d get to know people by what characters they play, then by name. I’d start seeing people outside the arcade or tournament, going over to people’s places to chill or play, the whole thing. Now, the people I know from the FGC are some of the best friends I’ve had in life, and are really like a second family. If you want to make an effort to get good, and also stay friendly, the FGC always has a place for you. Myself, I’m always willing to play sets with anyone, and help out with tips, matchup advice, tech, whatever. If I make people in my scene better, they’re going to push me to step my game up. At majors, I spend most of my time not in tournament playing sets with people from all around, whether for money or just for fun, because I get to experience all sorts of different players’ styles, and make myself even better as a result, while they get to do the same thing from me.

Kash: While it’s something that’s been going on for a while, what’s your take on pot splitting or throwing matches on stream? With tournament organizers and streamers vowing to work together to stop that, do you think we’ll see less of it?

Flux: Pot splitting has a very different connotation than throwing matches. There are many tournaments where I’ve been in Grand Finals with one of my close friends or teammates, and we’ve elected to split the pot so that both of us can profit equally without having to risk it all on a single match. Although we might split, we’re going to play that set out to our fullest, because we inherently hate to lose! On the other hand, throwing matches is something that inherently has no place in a competitive tournament. If you’re a true competitor, the thrill of victory should be enough to motivate you to play your hardest, even when the money is already in the bank, so to speak. I’m glad that TO’s have made it a priority to stop thrown matches, but we do need to be careful of setting standards about when a match is “thrown” or when the person may be trying an unfamiliar tactic or counter-pick to throw the other person off his or her game. Those type of decisions need to be made very carefully, since it’s a very slippery slope to tread on.

Kash: If you could challenge any player to a ft10 in any of the three games you currently play, who would you pick and why?

Flux: Right now, I think it would have to be Nemo in UMvC3. I think he’s a smart player who’s very good at exploiting the bad defensive habits that people have in this game, but he’s also very risky with a lot of his assist calls and wake-up options. I would like to see how he would fair vs. a great Zero/Dante as well, since thats a match-up I haven’t seen him fight. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play him at ECT this year!

Kash: If you were brought in by Capcom and Marvel to select two additional characters for both sides, who would you bring in that would deliver a mix no solo character currently offers?

Flux:  For Marvel, I’d like to see Carnage in the game. I could definitely see him as a rushdown character, very good ground based mobility, quick buttons, and a midrange projectile to help him stay in. Cyclops also needs to be in the game, there’s too much history with that character in the Vs. series for him not to be there. For Capcom, I’d like to see Q. Bee make a comeback. I can’t think of any other fighting game character that has a homing tridash. She would be terrifying up close with her good aerial normals and a command throw option. I also think Juri could be an interesting zoning character. I’d like to see her have a very execution heavy fireball game. She would make Zero’s buster switching look easy!

Kash: Other than fighting games, what other styles of games do you play?

Flux: I play a lot of platformers, RPG’s, indie games, mostly on PC nowadays. I’m a huge fan of retro games, I still bust out classics like Mega Man 2, Battletoads, and Super Metroid on the regular. I dont really feel like the new consoles are particularly strong for gameplay.

Kash: Are there any upcoming game(s) on any platform that makes you scream “I need this in my life”?

Flux: Probably X, Monolith’s new game for Wii U. I’ve always been a big fan of the Xeno series (Xenogears, Xenosaga, Xenoblade) so I’ll be sure to check this one out too. Giant robots with RPG elements always equals a must-buy for me!

Kash: Next gen consoles are out and the only one with a fighter made exclusively for next gen is Killer Instinct on Xbox One. How do you feel about the game, will it do well being exclusively on Xbox One and will you pick it up for tournaments?

Flux: I really like KI. I’m still learning the game, but I see that it has a lot of depth and will be successful in the long run. I think the combo breaker vs counter breaker mind-game is really fun and unique, and puts more mind-games into a traditional fighting game, which to me, is always a good thing. I hope the free to play model they are using works out for them, but I do wish the game had shipped with a few more characters in the lineup. The exclusivity of Xbox One will likely hurt the game’s tournament turnout, but it should still be a main game at majors this year.

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?

Flux: Megaman is pretty much my favorite game character, so I was personally hurt when he wasn’t in UMvC3. I would rock Zero/Megaman/Dante all day!

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Kash: The 6th generation of Pokemon was release to universal praise and sales numbers for Nintendo. Many former players from the first generation have gone back to try their luck in this new generation. What is your opinion with this new generation?

Flux: I’m one of those players who haven’t played since Red & Blue. I picked up a 3DS for the game, and I’m really enjoying it so far. The built-in EV training makes it much easier to get into the competitive scene of the game. I can’t say that I’m going to play it competitively at all, but I definitely have enjoyed the game from a casual level. Also, if you picked Chespin over Fennekin, we might have to have words!

Kash: Super Smash Brothers 3Ds/Wii U revealed to us newcomers in the form of the Villager from Animal Crossing, Wii Fit Trainer from Wii Fit, Princess Rosalina and Lumia from Super Mario Galaxy and a guest character, Classic Megaman, which we all know from the NES Megaman titles. Seeing how Nintendo can grab any character and turn them into a fighter, is there anyone you’d like for them to add both 1st party or 3rd party?

Flux: People have been asking for him for a long time now, myself included, but there has to be some way they can get Ridley in this game. Smash has a lack of great villain characters, and he would be a perfect addition. He would just look so damn awesome flying around! He’s gotta have the tail stab move he had in Super Metroid though, or no dice. Outside of that, I wouldn’t mind seeing Ghirahim from Skyward Sword. 3rd party choices, obviously Zero! Also Shulk from Xenoblade.

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Kash: Any upcoming tournaments that you’ll be attending?

Flux: I’ll be at Defend the North on January 11-12, Apex 2014 on January 18-19, Winter Brawl 8 on February 21-23, and Final Round 17 on March 14-16. I’m also hoping to make SoCal Regionals, but I’m not 100% sure if I can make it yet.

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?

Flux: I haven’t started streaming just yet, but I will very shortly! My channel will be twitch.tv/loaded_flux. I’m also a regular at the House of Crack (twitch.tv/bum1six3), and frequently stream training sessions with RayRay and other prominent NYC Marvel players(twitch.tv/rayray19wun).

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?

Flux: Thanks alot for giving me the opportunity to do this interview! Follow me on twitter, I always love hearing from people about anything at all.

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