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'The top tiers are playing a different game that the low tiers don't have access to' - Gunfight on Alex's meta position, 3rd Strike history and more

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • December 31, 2017 at 5:02 a.m. PST • Comments: 41

Just because Capcom Cup is over, that doesn't mean that our player interviews have to be.

I'm going to do my best to bring you guys interesting interviews with notable players as often as possible moving forward, so please look forward to continued content.

Today, I'm publishing an interview with the Alex master himself, Gunfight. In this interview, he talks about Alex's struggles in the Street Fighter 5 tier list, his fighting game history with 3rd Strike, plans for future competing and more.

Here's a snippet to get you started.

MajinTenshinhan: You've been around the FGC for a long time, as you were a great player back in Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike as well. What got you to start playing fighting games, and how long have you been doing it?

Gunfight: Before investing myself into fighting games, I used to play a lot of shooters, and especially Halo 2! This is where I met many friends and one of them was playing Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike. He told me that the game is going to get released on the Xbox with netplay and he asked me to buy it so we could play together.

It all started from there. If I remember correctly, the game got released at the end of 2004 and I bought it at the beginning of 2005, so it's been almost 13 years!

I didn't know anything about the FGC, tournaments or anything like that at the time, but the game got my interest, I found some content online and a forum filled with advice, combos, tutorials and I fell in love with the genre.

As you said, 3rd Strike was my main game through many years. I qualified for the Capcom 25th Anniversary Tournament in 2012, participated in several Tougeki (Super Battle Opera) in Japan, and won many tournaments in Europe!

Continue below for the full interview.

MajinTenshinhan: You've been turning a lot of heads as probably the best Alex player in Street Fighter 5. Why did you choose Alex as your character to begin with?

Gunfight: I always played Dudley in 3rd Strike and as time passed I was leaning towards a command grab character, especially Hugo, because I found those characters super fun, but in the end I never made the switch and stuck with my main.

Then, when Street Fighter 5 came out, I felt this was my chance to try a new type of character that I always wanted to use, my plan was to pick a command grab character from the very start.

Then, I heard Alex was going to be the first DLC character, and my choice was made. I liked his design since 3rd Strike, his moveset is cool, and that was also a chance for me to represent 3rd Strike, in a way!

MajinTenshinhan: Alex is frequently referred to as one of the worst characters in the game. How good do you think he is, and what changes do you think he could use to improve as a character? Also, what do you think about what we've seen from his V-Trigger 2 in Arcade Edition so far?

Gunfight: This is a tricky question, because people will say that I downplay my character and that Alex is good, haha.

First of all, let me just say that Alex was good in Season 1. In my opinion, he was probably one of the best mid tiers, and only had real trouble against characters that everyone knows about (the worst were Chun-Li, Cammy, R. Mika and Nash).

But, right now, Alex is at the bottom. He has no winning matchup in my opinion, and just at how the game's meta has evolved, he just can't compete. But that's mostly the problem for all low tiers in this game.

Basically, in Season 2, Capcom nerfed hard all of the good tools that Alex had. He received some buffs, like being +6 on hit with his lariat, better recovery for Headbutt and other small stuff, but in the end, the ability he had to control the ground game in Season 1 is just gone. So, right now, Alex is just not good at anything. His midscreen control was his best attribute, but now it's just alright and you risk getting jumped in with every button you press.

All his main moves are slower, with less active frames and more recovery, less damage than Season 1 and no more anti-air jab which was his only reliable anti-air to begin with. So, the consequences here are that you have very slow moves on the ground, with no super good reward on hit since it's just a poke that won't lead to anything, and jumpins can just destroy you since Alex has no more fast reliable normal anti-air, or invincible ones like a dragon punch.

No good defense, no 3-frame moves, slow V-Reversal, unthrowable move that doesn't punish normal throw and just doesn't work against half of the command grabs since Alex will just end up behind them and you get punished anyway.

No good offense either, since his command grab doesn't lead to anything (nor does his normal throw), while being 6 frames startup and having short range. His best pressure tools (Lariat and EX Stomp) can get V-Reversaled, and most of his strings lose to 3-frame moves or backdashes - for example, Ed escapes everything by backdashing even after a Lariat, and other characters can do that too.

His V-Trigger is good, but when you face Alex, you aren't threatened by the throw. If you just block and wait for V-Trigger to go away, his comeback potential vanished. Same problem as Ryu right now. Just eat the grab, and you're fine.

So, in the Season 2 meta, the character can't compete. He doesn't have the tools to be efficient. Of course, Alex can win some matches with good reads while taking huge risks, but the odds and rewards are, most of the time, against him. In the long run, if you have no solid and reliable way to deal damage or control space, your chance of winning is very, very low.

The buffs I would like to see for Alex, there's nothing too strong. I'd like to see:
- EX Knee becoming a real anti-air by making it invincible to air attacks. Right now, the first 5 frames of the move are not invincible.
- Crouching Medium Punch being reverted to his old 7-frame startup speed. He'll have a way to convert from a counter hit standing medium punch from a mid-range position.
- Maybe make his standing medium punch and command grab 5-frame startup.
- Or just give me back Season 1 Alex, haha!

I don't want any "forward dash being plus" okizeme from command grab or normal throw, as I hope that those kinds of options will just be gone from Street Fighter 5 since the defense options against throws are almost non-existant.

I had a small peek at the new V-Trigger, StormKubo told me it's very strong but I'm not sure myself. Alex problems don't come from V-Trigger since his current one is already good, and it also gives him a new defensive option with the parry which he won't have if you choose V-Trigger 2.

I will try it out when the release comes, but from what it looks like at the moment, even if Alex can have okizeme with V-Trigger 2 I'll keep using V-Trigger 1 since it looks more versatile and offers a kind of solution to his defense problems.

MajinTenshinhan: Although we see you showing up to tournaments in Japan, you don't seem to have been traveling that much. Are you interested in traveling to more tournaments now that Street Fighter 5 has such a large eSports presence?

Gunfight: Yes, I am very interested in traveling more! That's what I'm aiming for, to be honest. It's just that having a full time job, especially in Japan, consumes so much time and energy, and it doesn't allow me to travel much.

I don't have access to many vacations, and bills are the priority when it comes to money. I have to make choices in which events I want to attend and if it's possible in terms of time and money. I was lucky enough to get invited by Liquid|NuckleDu for EVO, and I can never thank him and my supporters enough for this opportunity. The support I received through Twitch also made it possible for me to attend the Taiwan CPT event.

I am trying to get some visibility with my Twitch channel, I just started a podcast too, and I try to travel as much as I can. The goal in the end is to receive some sort of support through sponsorship, if I actually deserve that or not is another problem, haha!

MajinTenshinhan: Are there any changes you'd like to see in Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition to the game itself?

Gunfight: Yes, right now I feel that throws, especially normal ones, are the biggest problem in the game since crouch teching is gone and you have basically no way to cover the throw options without taking huge risks. It feels like a big russian roulette for the defender, and because of that shimmy and neutral jump on people's wakeup is so strong.

It looks like normal throw loops are going to be gone in Arcade Edition along with super strong 50/50 situations like Ibuki's, so I am very happy about those changes. I would also increase the range where the characters are pushed back after a teched throw.

The other things might be to adjust some Crush Counter moves, some of them are way too strong and some characters can just throw them out without any risks. Also, removing command throw loops would of course be super good.

Right now I feel that low tier characters are not that bad, it's just that the top tiers are playing a different game that all the low tiers don't have access to. I am having fun playing against, let's say, Ryu, or a Dhalsim or Nash, because I don't feel robbed when I lose.

Top tier characters or command throw loop characters, I feel like I am always receiving double punishment for my choices, getting damage, stun and put in the corner and then having to deal with a situation where I have no options, no way to control or limit the risk of the outcome, and it feels very bad. In the end, after I lost, I am just like "I should have guessed better" ... Not much to learn from that.

So that's why, this time, I would love to see top tiers being nerfed and low/mid tier characters basically remaining the same. Giving everyone super strong options that lead to guessing situations is not the way to make this game fun, in my opinion. It will result in a huge roulette and this is really not my idea of a balanced game.

MajinTenshinhan: Since you've experienced both the French and the Japanese FGC, how do you feel that they differ from eachother? Is there any inherent difference in how French and Japanese players approach the game?

Gunfight: I think that the main difference between the Japanese and French communities, or even the rest of the world, is that they don't complain as much as we do, haha. Of course they complain, but not to the same degree, their power of acceptance might be greater!

They share way more information, and they congratulate and acknowledge eachother way more than other people, too. Even to players that aren't famous or the best or anything like that.

So, I think it is more favorable to create a friendly atmosphere and maybe create a more solid community. They're always supporting their players too!

Another huge difference that I feel is that they want to perfect their craft, they like to pay attention to small details and won't rely only on cheap tactics. It looks like they aim for the long run instead of instant victory. I think the results right now show this, since in Season 2, I feel there are way more Japanese players in all the top 8s compared to last year's Season 1.

Also, thanks to EventHubs for the interview and a huge thanks to the Alex Nation, of course!

Massive thanks to Gunfight for agreeing to do this interview with us, and we wish him the best of luck in the 2018 Capcom Pro Tour season. For more from this Alex master, you can check out his Twitter and Twitch Channel.

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