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AplogyMan: “I do plan to compete in both DBFZ and Guilty Gear Strive”

15 min

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AplogyMan: “I do plan to compete in both DBFZ and Guilty Gear Strive”
Photo: Stephanie Lindgren / Red Bull Content Pool
Our interview with a remarkable player, skilled in several titles

The fighting games community is a unique gathering, united not by a single title but rather the genre itself. Esports professionals have the ability to play different games and get successful in a few. Event organizers are often not limited to one discipline but host a bunch of tournaments in one place. And the viewers… well, we enjoy all shades of this amazing show!

On November 13-14, some of the best fighting games players in the world gathered in Las Vegas to compete at Red Bull Kumite 2021. For the first time, there were tournaments in 3 games: Guilty Gear -Strive-, Tekken 7, and Street Fighter V.

After the event, DashFight reached out to one of the participants, who has significant experience in the Marvel vs. Capcom series and is known recently as a Dragon Ball FighterZ player. We had a conversation with ApologyMan, who played in the Guilty Gear section.

We have certainly touched the Kumite in our questions, but most of them are beyond that tournament.  Please, check out this interview with ApologyMan.

What are your general impressions of Red Bull Kumite Las Vegas?

This tournament was a really well-run event. Its level was so high thanks to the players they invited, which are some of the best players in the world. And the organizers took care of us very well, taking all the precautions with Covid being a big issue right now. The players took PCR tests and on-site tests as well, we showed vaccination proofs. All of that made us feel much safer about traveling to this event. And they definitely spoiled us, giving us excellent food and awesome free stuff and having a nice welcome party. All the players had a nice practice room to get prepared for the matches. And the production of the event, while it was live, was incredible. That was an overall amazing experience. And it was in Vegas, so I got to do fun Vegas stuff.

Your entrance to the Red Bull Kumite scene was so fun! Why Faust? What about this character motivates you to play him?

Faust is definitely a pretty uncommon character, very weird. And I like weird characters in a way. I like being able to express myself when I play fighting games. Faust has a lot of interesting options and tools that I like a lot. He makes the game chaotic. And that makes the opponents flustered; they are confused by all the items on the screen. I like that feeling when the opponent doesn’t know what is going on. It’s a big draw for me. And he looks cool, goofy, and I like that.

Those are reasons I play Faust. I am a character-driven player in general. I select characters that I really enjoy and that matter a lot to me. I’ve been playing Faust since the beginning because of that. And yeah, I’m still playing him now.

What can you advise on matchups for Faust players?

Faust has pretty polarizing matchups in general. They spread all over the place. Earlier, he had a lot of struggling ones, but since the most recent balance patch, the situation has improved a lot.

Some of the matchups I struggle with a lot personally are Axl and Ramlethal. Also, Giovanna is difficult as well, and Millia. Those characters give me some trouble. But Faust also has some good matchups, which you probably wouldn’t expect. Nagoriyuki is actually a good matchup for Faust. That’s a very strong character in the meta right now, and players have troubles with him. But I think Faust beats him. Also, he beats Ky, Potemkin, Goldlewis, and Jack-O… And he goes even with others from the cast. Faust has an interesting matchup spread. He definitely has some tough ones, but he also has some good ones.

You have experience with many fighting games. What’s more important for you to choose your main character — your personal preferences or matchups and tier lists?

Usually, when I pick up characters, I don’t think of tier lists. I’m much more focused on whether this character fits the way I’m gonna play the game. Sometimes I get lucky, and my characters are of a super top tier. And sometimes, I don’t. In the case of Faust, he was probably the worst character, if not the second-worst, when the game came out. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. He is pretty solid and strong now. 

I don’t really think about a character’s strength that much. To some degree, I do. I’m not gonna play some worst characters. I try to play strong ones in general, but their playstyle is what matters the most for me. My preferable character archetype has changed over the years. It might even be hard to say what I like. I’ve played characters like Firebrand in Marvel vs. Capcom, who is of high air mobility. Before that, I played such characters as Hakumen in BlazBlue, who is very slow, with sword poking, heavy on defense. 

Generally, one major draw for the characters that I play is having very strong normals. It's a huge important thing for me when I play any fighting game. I guess that's the only consistent thing with my character choice. And yeah, they have to look cool too.

Why have you chosen Guilty Gear -Strive- to concentrate on? What makes the game special?

The reason I like Strive is my past fighting game experience. The first traditional fighting game that I played in 2009 was BlazBlue. It’s made by the company behind Guilty Gear, Arc System Works. And they're known for Guilty Gear. I love BlazBlue a lot, and I love Arc System Works a lot. So I've always followed that company in terms of their fighting games. I played older Guilty Gear games a little bit too, not as much as I am playing Strive. I've played Guilty Gear Xrd and Accent Core a little bit. But I was just on the side. I've enjoyed the games, but not as much as some of their other titles. When Guilty Gear Strive came out, they had a lot of beta tests. I really enjoyed playing it. And the netcode for the game was strong, with good rollback implementation. All those things combined with the fact that I had a character that I enjoyed, Faust, kind of made sense to keep playing the game. I was just having fun with it. And yeah, I'm still playing it now. Also, the developers fixed many of things I didn't like, so they are not present in the current game. And they've added a bunch of new mechanics that I like.

Guilty Gear -Strive- is a perfect example of how flexible the fighting games community is. Players from other titles enter the competition and demonstrate awesome miracles. Do you play one game at a time or do you jump between games?

I also compete in Dragon Ball FighterZ. That's the game I competed in probably the most for the past three years. Before that, I had played more fighting games. I'd say that was kind of a decision I made recently to not play as many fighting games and compete in them as before. When Dragon Ball FighterZ came out in 2018, that’s kind of a rule that I made for myself. I was like: “No more playing a bunch of different fighting games,” because I was having trouble spreading myself really thin. I was playing Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter V, BlazBlue, and Smash a little bit also. I was playing a lot of different fighting games, obviously with the focus being on Marvel vs. Capcom before. That game was always the main focus for me. But I was spreading myself thin, and I was noticing it was affecting my performance. So with Dragon Ball FighterZ. I have said: “I'm only going to play one game. I'm just going to play Dragon Ball FighterZ. I'm not going to play anything else.” And that helped my results a lot. I saw a huge improvement because of that. Since Guilty Gear came out now, though, I think I'm going to do my best to play it too. I don't think I can play more than two. There's absolutely no way. But I'll see how it goes. I do plan to try to compete in both Dragon Ball FighterZ and Guilty Gear Strive to the best of my ability.

Is Dragon Ball FighterZ still good as an esports title? Does it have a future?

There's still a fair amount of support from the company competitively, which is cool. For example, we have this event coming up in France, Dragon Ball FighterZ World Championship. They're doing the best they can, considering the state of the world right now with Covid. An unfortunate thing with Dragon Ball FighterZ compared to Guilty Gear is that its netcode is not really good. It uses an old form of netcode, delay-based netcode. And that kind of hurts playing the game competitively. The game is heavily about reactions, and you just can't react to many different scenarios with the current netcode. It has hurt the game a lot over the past years in the pandemic. But I do think the game has a future, the closer we get to offline coming up now. I wouldn't say that its lifespan is over. And there's a dedicated community to playing the game, and I still love playing Dragon Ball FighterZ. I'm going to be competing in it as long as I can. But yeah, I would say the game definitely needs a better netcode to improve its future. That probably won't happen. I expect a sequel for the game to come out, and it will have better netcode. Because they already made money on the game as it is. So, we'll see. There's still a dedicated community for the game, so I think it has a good future.

What could make DBFZ even a better game? Some new characters? Some gameplay adjustments?

I think they got most of the important characters in the game from the anime. I think they got everyone. They did not get Raditz, which is weird. There are a couple of other characters I could put in there, maybe Super Buu or something. But I don't think the characters are as important as adding the netcode. Maybe they could add some rebalancing in the future. That could be cool too, just to keep it fresh. It's not a big deal if they don't add any more characters for the current game. But if they do, that would be cool, I'm not gonna complain. I am all for more characters. Still, the game is in a pretty good state right now in terms of how big the cast is, honestly.

You played Smash. What do you think about Sora? Do you enjoy him in SSBU?

I don't play Smash as much nowadays. I played Smash Ultimate the first year competitively — a little bit, not that much. I played in some tournaments here and there. I did try Sora when he came out. He's pretty cool. They definitely nailed his floatiness; I think that's one of the coolest things they did. When it comes to how the character feels, it totally matches how he plays in Kingdom Hearts. He jumps and double jumps; he has a really floaty jump. Sora is a pretty neat character. His edge-guarding is so fun. But I haven't played him that much. I played a little bit the first few days when he came out. They did him justice.

And just out of curiosity — have you tried Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl? What do you think about it?

I played that a lot actually the first week. It was fun. It's very… I don’t have a better word to describe it… it’s janky. It's fun. The movement is enjoyable; you can air dash in any direction. And it has a pretty fun gameplay loop. The combos are fun to do. But man, it's a little bit of an eyesore. The graphics are a little iffy. There's no voice acting. I don't know... It needs a little bit more, honestly, to keep its players interested, I think. But it is fun. I like it for how janky it is. But the game hurts my hands. It destroys my hands hitting Neutral Air into the air dash cancel that many times...

Now, you are a professional player representing an esports organization. What was the moving power for you to reach this point — the desire to become a pro that motivated you to play more or the joy of playing games that brought you to the pro level?

I never expected to be a professional player; that was never a goal of mine. It was a fun hobby while growing up. It basically kept me sane when I was going through the schooling. I actually graduated from college recently in computer science. And it was a hobby of mine that I kind of maintained on the side; it was something I really enjoyed. And it kept me motivated to play and improve in the game. It's cool that I'm having all these opportunities now, and it's honestly a privilege to be able to basically make a living of it. I think I want to keep trying to do it as long as I can. If it doesn't work out, I can always pursue my computer science degree that I got recently, I guess. But... I think I want to keep doing it as long as I can.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone who dreams of building their fighting esports career?

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Don't give up everything for it — that I could say for sure. It's very risky to just bet it all and hope that you become some pro player in any sport, honestly, even if you're really good. Try to have other hustles, whether that's education or other jobs, or just build up other skills while trying to pursue this. And you know, if the opportunity arises, definitely jump on it. You need to work hard in improving your game and also improving your brand through social media and content creation, obviously performing well at events. There's a lot of different things that improve your brand as a player, and you want to keep doing all that while trying to maintain your skills in other ways so that you can diversify yourself. And when an opportunity finally arises, jump on it. Try to make the best of it. So, the biggest advice I can give is don't put all your eggs in one basket. Try to do as many things as possible.

Thank you, ApologyMan, for this conversation and your really great advice for the community.

We at DashFight will keep a close eye on the successes of this guy in fighting esports, and we will certainly inform you about everything interesting. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter!

Meanwhile, you have more opportunities to learn directly from ApologyMan. What about checking out his DBFZ character guides on Cell and Yamcha?

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