Sanford Kelly: Oni's damage reduction and -5 DPs will drop his potential in USF4, EventHubs exclusive interview on USF4 changes, Wao's Oni, and more

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • March 19, 2014 at 2:17 p.m. PDT

EMP|Sanford Kelly has been quite active in the competitive fighting game scene lately: taking part in ESGN TV's Fight Night Street Fighter series, consistently placing at Next Level Battle Circuit, and attending major events like NEC 14 and Winter Brawl 8.

We here at EventHubs wanted to have a word with the man behind the most lethal Oni in the states, and get his thoughts on a few different subjects. In this exclusive interview, you'll read what Sanford had to say about Oni's changes in Ultra Street Fighter 4, future plans for he and his gaming team, Empire Arcadia, what games Sanford may pick up seriously, and more.

Below is a snippet to get you started, but be sure to hit the jump to read everything.

DreamKing: Over the years you’ve been known as a jack of all trades of sorts in Street Fighter 4. However, it seems you’ve settled on Oni as of late. Why is that?

Sanford: I have been using Oni since he came out casually back in the ARC in late 2012. I had a deep interest in him and began engineering some tech to see what his potential in the future would be. I decided to take him seriously when I entered a tourney with him. It was like giving him a test drive after almost a year in the lab. Recently within the last 6 months I've decided to take him to the next level by using him as one of my mains competitively. It’s very fun actually.

DreamKing: As many know, Wao is a very successful Oni player in Japan right now. You recently expressed your feelings about his play-style over on Facebook, referring to it as “basic.” Do you still feel the same after Wao’s 3rd place win at SCR 2014, and in what ways does your Oni play differ from his?

Sanford: Wao is a great player and has done very well with him in Japan over the last year. I feel a lot of the reason that is the case is because the players (in Japan) are not doing the research on the character Oni. They’ve become too comfortable with the top placers and characters there and are overlooking the other characters and players.

DreamKing: Ultra Street Fighter 4 is only a few months away from release, and Oni is getting a considerable amount of buffs/nerfs. Which of his changes do you feel will affect him the most and why?

Sanford: Oni's damage in USF4 will be decreased slightly in the new game, so I think it will affect him a bit. I think his potential performance will be decreased considering DP is -5 now so him being able to FADC it isn't going to be that great in my opinion unless this changes.

DreamKing: Speaking of USF4, are there any characters that you feel are already looking to be strong in the upcoming update?

Sanford: I believe Juri, Honda, and Gouken will be strong in USF4 with the changes.

DreamKing: Now, we all know that you’re a beast in SSF4 AE v2012, but you’ve mentioned on Twitter that you’re also starting to get into Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 a bit more. How is that going?

Sanford: UMvC3 just isn't my type of game. (laughs*) I support those that play it though. That struggle is real :)

DreamKing: Are there any other games that interest you at the moment that you’d consider playing seriously?

Sanford: I like Injustice and also the new Guilty Gear...I'm really considering playing it a bit.

DreamKing: You are represented by Empire Arcadia, competing alongside other top-level players such as EMP|Dieminion, EMP|IFC Yipes, and more. How do you feel about your team, and do you/EMP have any big plans for 2014?

Sanford: Empire Arcadia is a huge reason why I'm very good in games. Most of the people are like family to me because I've known them for 10+years. Through my ups and downs in life these guys who I consider my true friends never left my side and always fight the good fight. In terms of the business for the organization, TriForce has made some changes and sought the help that the brand needs from a management standpoint to advance us further in eSports. I’m confident he and management have found the right path for the Empire as a whole.

As a team and on the competitive field for 2014 we all have been doing well. We started out the year with myself winning APEX 2014, Dieminion taking Winter Brawl 8 and K-Brad doing a magnificent job not only winning SoCal Regionals but defending the country from international competitors from winning AE. I’m confident we’ll continue to do well. Each year we have met our quota since the team was formed in 2002 so I don’t see any reason we can’t continue to do what we do every year.

A couple of events have reached out to us internationally and we answered the call. I can see that as a team we’re looking to expand our brand internationally and we’re working hard in Europe to help put the team out there, especially in France. You might see me at Stunnfest and Republic of Fighters come May so stay tuned. Success is the goal :)

DreamKing: Capcom has finally revealed the identity of Ultra Street Fighter 4’s final character; a Cammy-like M. Bison doll named Decapre. What are your impressions of this fighter so far, and do you think she’ll be a welcome addition to the USF4 roster?

Sanford: There are a lot of things Capcom could have done differently. From adding more characters, to additional new stages or just a new engine altogether. I’m not a developer or a game designer so I can’t complain. To me it’s just an upgrade of the same game so it’s whatever if they want to rehash stages and characters. There's no sense in complaining if you're going to play it anyway so accept it and keep going. The scene is growing so the best you can do is grow with it.

DreamKing: Would you like to make any shoutouts?

Sanford: Shout outs to those who support me and those who hate because I accept both. I'm doing something right if I’m in your sights (Dante voice) lol . Thank you Empire Arcadia and the family Yipes, Jeron, Persia, Krey, Red, DragonGod, Matrix and a lot more for believing in me for so long even at times when I did wrong. Shout outs to EMP’s management team Lofton Global and get ready for something big in July with MVG. Shout outs to ESGN TV for having me over in Germany. You guys are awesome. Thank you Arcade Street in France for holding down my brothers, Dieminion and TriForce during their extended stay in France. Shout outs to Big E Gaming, Larry shin Blanka (Final Round), Sweet Johnny Cage and Li Joe (ECT) and the rest of the crew. I see you :D Most importantly shout outs to EventHubs, you guys are improving dramatically with your content.

A big thanks to Empire Arcadia and Sanford Kelly for taking the time to work with us here at EventHubs.

Images via Sanford's Facebook.

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