'I was feeling down with Street Fighter 5, there was no passion' - 801 Strider on his SF5 slump, how he got out of it and his secret to great neutral

Part 1 of our exclusive 801 Strider Capcom Cup 2018 interview

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • January 4, 2019 at 11:40 a.m. PST

Gustavo "801 Strider" Romero has proven his Street Fighter mettle in both the fourth and fifth iteration of the franchise, and continues to wow audiences with his intriguing style that blends extremely precise and patient decision making with high-octane explosions of offense.

Despite playing some of the nuttiest characters (Abel in Street Fighter 4, Laura and G in Street Fighter 5) he is still acknowledged and respected as one of the competitive scene's more thoughtful and learned players. We were able to catch up with him at this year's Capcom Cup where, after a year of fewer major appearances than others, Romero took a crack at the Last Chance Qualifier tournament.

He spoke specifically about his personal approach to fighting games, and how he goes about controlling the chaos so well at the start of our talk. The conversation then transitioned over to the reason why we haven't seen him in as much competition in 2018, that being some demoralization because of Season 3's general balance and flow.

Catalyst: Your Laura was very fundamentally solid. You approached the game differently than almost everyone else that played that character, why did you choose to approach her that way?

801 Strider: You know, I approached Abel in Street Fighter 4 like that as well. My whole theory with those characters is that I don't have to force my way in, I can just wait for the opportunity. These are stressful characters, when someone sits down against Laura, they're stressed right off the bat and they play a bit more antsy a lot of times.

A lot of it is playing with that human psychology, and just letting people hang themselves. If I don't force the issue, they usually come to me. Once I get in, then I can take the risks and go crazy. Other people may have different theories, but I don't think you really have to take that risk in neutral. Win that one exchange, score that one whiff punish, jump over that one fireball or slow normal, and you're in. Just improve your neutral.

Catalyst: You have to have balls to play that way because you've had to have so many people tell you "you're wrong, you're playing the wrong way." How did you shrug that off and just keep going?

801 Strider: I don't develop my game style based on what other people say, I develop based on what I know about the game and my own ideas. I've kinda kept it that way because ultimately it's about your grind, not playing like other people.

"A lot of it is playing with that human psychology, and just letting people hang themselves. If I don't force the issue, they usually come to me. Once I get in, then I can take the risks and go crazy... Win that one exchange, score that one whiff punish, jump over that one fireball or slow normal, and you're in. Just improve your neutral."

Catalyst: You recently switched from Laura to G, is it permanent and why did you make it?

801 Strider: I'll be honest, this season I wasn't having fun with the game. I looked at how they changed the tier list with those patches and they really didn't make it more balanced than Season 2. It's the same five characters or so now, but Season 2 had a lot more characters that were doing well because there was a lot of bull s***.

Now this season (three) they just toned down the BS for the majority of the cast and kept it intact for the top tiers. I was just feeling down with the game, there was no passion and I was just focusing on real life stuff like work and my home. I didn't think it was worth it to sacrifice a lot of stuff for this game.

I'm not in this for eSports, the money or anything like that. I'm in this because I enjoy playing the game, competing with people all over the world. When you lose that passion, why would you sacrifice for it? When G came out, I played him and loved the game again. It really just comes down to that.

Romero regularly shares his findings and insights on his Twitch stream as well as his Twitter, both of which are great resources if you're looking to level up your game.

Stay tuned for part two of our talk, wherein the Utah based player shares his gripes about Street Fighter 5, the remedy to tournament nerves and more.

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