The top Chun li player in Europe gives his thoughts on life and tournaments
Valentin 'Valmaster' Petit is a French player who has been around since Street Fighter IV and is one of the most prolific character specialists in the world. His use of Chun li has always been a wonder to fans and opponents alike as he uses the strongest woman in the world to her full potential.
He has won several tournaments including VSFighting in 2014 and has placed really well in top tournaments including UFA in 2022 where he lost to prodigy, EndingWalker. Valmaster is a true master of Chun li and getting the chance to speak to him was a delight.
Here's what we got talking about.
DF: Can you walk us through a typical day for you?
Valmaster: Usually I work a bit first, coaching sessions, web development, make videos for YouTube. I do everything that I have to do in the day. Then it depends on the day but when it's around 3-6pm I start practicing and streaming until the night.
DF: Do you ever get nervous on the day of a tournament? If so, how do you deal with the nerves?
V: I can get nervous sometimes for very important matches in big tournaments but it's more adrenalin than stress. When I started to play competitively I was very nervous and it could affect my gameplay. Now I can be a little bit nervous but in general it doesn't change anything in my gameplay, I still feel good. I think it just takes time, you have to go to a lot of tournaments, get used to it and you will feel way more confident.
DF: Can you tell us all about your first ever tournament experience, how did it go, what do you remember about it?
V: The very first one I was with my brother who introduced me to Street Fighter. It was in a big gaming shop, they were [running] qualifier tournaments. I met a lot of good people there it was very nice. I remember that I won and qualified for the finals on another day and everything started from that. I have always been very "competitive", even when I was younger with the sport. After that I started to practice more and looked for other tournaments.
DF: Do you have any pre-tournament rituals, like a special shirt, or some other thing that helps you prepare for the day ahead?
V: Not really, usually I just try to be as confident as I can before the tournament day. I'm just trying to sleep very well [on] the previous days before a tournament, it's too important haha.
DF: Can you walk us through your routine on the night before a big tournament?
V: I try to eat healthy, not too much and sleep at least 7hours. It's the most important thing if I want to feel good on the next day because usually a tournament takes 6-10hours so you have to feel ok.
DF: What has been your favourite tournament to attend, and what stands out in that tournament compared to all the other ones?
V: If we talk about my favourite tournament as a nice memory I would say Capcom Cup 2014 because it was my first Capcom Cup and [I got to] travel [to] the USA with big names like Momochi, Justin Wong, Xian etc. Only the top 16 best players in the world were there and I was so proud to participate.
If we talk about good experience for player and quality, UFA 2023 in Paris was probably the best. [The] setups were good and First-To-3 for the entire tournament so it's probably better than other tournaments for players in general.
But overall as a competitive player, I prefer participate to USA tournaments (sorry France xD)
DF: Do you have a favourite pre-tournament meal? If so, what is it? And if you don’t have one, what would you imagine you’d want as one?
V: Poke Bowl Salmon with pickled carrots, red cabbage, corn, radish and avocado. I love that meal lol.
DF: Do you prefer to practice during the day or at night, and what are the benefits of your preferred time slot?
V: Usually I prefer practice the night, you are less distracted and you have more people connected so you can talk/play with more people.
DF: Can you describe how you go about practise and labbing, does your practice emphasis change just before an event?
V: It depends if it's the beginning of the season or mid season. Beginning of the season you have to quickly find a strong character you feel good with it. Then you have to lab him a lot and practice matchups.
Once you feel ok you have to watch videos of other top players before events in case you have to fight them and practice specific situations.
DF: How do you deal with defeat in a tournament, what do you tell yourself, and how do you get past it?
V: Recently when I lose in a tournament I take it less personally. Probably because of SF6, the game is good overall but you can lose very quickly on crazy things and sometime it's not really your fault. It's harder to be consistent against everyone and create a gap of level in this game than others so if I lose I always try to understand why, obviously but I don't blame myself too much except if I really [made] a lot of mistakes.
Then, I just think to the next steps, next tournaments. I try to prepare myself properly and fix my mistakes.
DF: Have you ever felt like giving up and walking away, how did you come back from that?
V: At the beginning of Street Fightter V the game wasn't good at all. We are not going to lie, the tournaments were on PS4, the game was almost unplayable, at the same time I had other things to do and another game that I like a lot came out. So I just decided to move on and do something I like more. I was still playing, doing tournaments sometime in SFV but I wasn't very dedicated to it. Then I came back in SFV in 2022. I don't think I will give up the competition, I like it too much.
DF: What are the most impactful words that shaped your fighting game philosophy, and who said them to you?
V: I don't really remember impactful words from someone. Usually I try to not listen [to] people too much in general, I try to stay focused on what I have to do haha.
DF: What side are you on this debate: Fans should not come up to a player who just lost for a photo or an autograph? Why do you think so?
V: I would say it depends the way he does it. If he does it nicely there is no problem at all, I would even be happy. But sometime ... they say words that hurt but I can see that they don't really realize it.
But I guess you have to deal with it just like in other games or sports, it's not always easy.
DF: What tips would you give anyone on the best way to prepare for a tournament?
V: If it's your first tournament and you feel stress I would just stay to do it for fun, don't take it too seriously otherwise you will fail because of the stress. Do your best but have fun, don't put too much pressure on yourself because of an expected result. You can also prepare yourself better if you watch videos and practice the characters and players you are going to face in the bracket.
DF: What do you consider the five most essential things a first time competitor should have when going to a tournament?
- He should come for fun.
- He should come [with] purpose (improve his gameplay, improve his stress in tournaments, meet people, it can be different things).
- He should watch a lot of games from different players.
- Sleep Well xD.
- Last thing also, if you want to perform, don't talk too much and try to be humble, I see too many players saying "I'm going to beat them all easily, not my level" and at the end of the day, they finished top 128 and they disappear like a ghost hahaha.