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Ilya Kravtsov
36 min

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Yuri "Dubasik" Kalachev shares his thought about MK11 scene and his career

- Tell me, basically, how did you start playing fighting games? Your career is not very long, just several years. The question is, how did you even know about Mortal Kombat? Was MK your first fighting game?

In general, I learned about fighting games, like everyone else in the post-Soviet countries, starting with MK 3. As it usually happened in those times, all the children from a big house gathered in one apartment and played. Friends also came to my brother to play. I was there with them too.

In 2010, I was about 13 years old, even younger. I saw MORTAL KOMBAT VS DC UNIVERSE on the counter of the store and I was like: “Oh, this is the MORTAL KOMBAT that we used to play!”. I got it and played. It includes an online mode. It was a super broken, super bad game, but somehow, you know, I got addicted. I liked to go online, that is, play with other players. I gained the adrenaline rush, I mean, I felt very good for the first time in my life.

I didn't count on anything, on any tournaments. And there weren't any tournaments then, in fact. I also played MK 9, that is, without knowing anything. I just pressed the buttons. Well, partly I played MK X, too... And then Injustice 2 was released, and I already began to devote much more time to fighting. I don’t know why. Besides, at that time, I also started streaming, I really liked that thing, I devoted a lot of time to the game.


- So you started streaming and turned into such a fan of Mortal Kombat and Injustice since the release of Injustice 2?

I cannot say that I am a fan of Injustice. Yes, I really like the DC universe, but I can't say that I'm a fan of Mortal Kombat or anything else. I really like to play, choose a character. Who doesn't? First, I played a couple of tournaments in Injustice 2. there were community tournaments, literally for 10,000 rubles. Although it was very good money then. Such a tournament was attended by 30 - 40 people, it was fun. And I took part in the first tournament, and of course, I won nothing. And then, again, I played a lot. And once, in 2018, my friend Ed Napier said: "Let's go to Viennality!" It’s a tournament in Vienna, held annually. And I was like, “Why not! Why not go? I understand that I'm not really a player. Maybe I won’t win anything, but still I’ll travel with a friend, hang out a little, see a new country”. As a result, Ed Napier could not go, and I went alone. And this is essentially my first offline tournament, the first serious tournament where I was able to take a normal place. I took 9th place there, this is the highest result that I had at that time. And I managed to attract attention to my character, my skill. People began to subscribe to me on Twitter and so on.


- What do you think, how did you draw attention to your character at the first tournament?

Basically, my character - I played for Enchantress - was super unpopular, nobody ever picked her. And I really liked playing for her, and I played very well. First of all, I was able to beat HoneyBee in this tournament. And HoneyBee was then a very popular YouTuber and streamer. Everyone knew him. And everyone was like, “Oh, what, he beat HoneyBee, how can it be? Who is it?" But in fact, in a very tight match 3: 2 I won against him, and then he also won against me in losers. And all in all, I really liked how I played there, I took 9th place. I just managed to play on a par with my idols, with people whom I watched “on TV,” that is, on streams, at tournaments. And there I was able to compete with them and even win against someone. And here adrenaline hit me in the head, and after that, I began to devote more and more time to fighting.


- Can we say that this tournament is the moment when you turned from a player into a professional gamer?

At the moment I'm not a pro player, but a streamer. And earlier, six months ago, I devoted a lot of time to the game, I REALLY played a lot, I won a lot and all my winnings come mainly from the last year. We can say that that was the peak of my career.


- Do you remember the moment when you realized yourself as a pro-player? You just played for yourself, MK 3, MK 9, MK X, Injustice, you went into a rage. Did you then, already at the first tournament, realize like “That’s all, I am not an amateur now, I am a pro-player because I go to tournaments”? Or maybe it came later or earlier?

This most likely came later. With a cool head, I began to realize that I was actually a pro-player, when I started making money from this, most likely. A couple of months after the release of MK 11, when I began to win money through this game. I mean, I wasn’t like “OH GOD, I’m a PRO-PLAYER!”, But looked at the situation coolly and realized that I could actually call myself a pro-player, because I only do this, this is my only way to earn money and only in this I improve myself. Therefore, it was already more likely in MK 11.


- So, now you work as a streamer? Or are you still studying somewhere or working?

Recently, since the release of MK 11, I have not worked anywhere, have not done anything, have not earned money anywhere. The only things I've been doing all this time are streaming on Twitch and playing in tournaments. That's it, I don't make money anywhere else.


- And about your studies, have you already graduated or not started?

I have a higher education, I am an actor in drama theater and cinema.


- It should help you on Twitch, I suppose?

Yes, it does. Basically, it helps not to be afraid at all. I used to be very stage frightened when I entered at 16. I probably wouldn't be able to stream then. But after university... It literally gave me confidence, and even with a camera, 100 cameras around, I always feel fine.


- Did you start your career as a streamer and as a player while still studying or after that? And if while studying, how did you combine it?

It started immediately after university. At first, I tried a couple of theaters, but I didn't succeed. And while there was nothing to do, I started streaming. Mostly it did not overlap.


- Tell me, what is the MK community in Russia? I recently interviewed a Polish gamer. He's a Tekken player, Why. He is a part of the Polish esports community, he was even chosen as the head of this community. Tell us about the Russian.

Hard to tell. But we have very strong players in our city. Look at Doc, who showed remarkable results in MK X, look at FLET as well, who was simply one of the best players in MK X, that is, top 1 and top 2. And on top of that, there are also players who have very good results. Well, in St. Petersburg, I don't think there are a lot of players, but there is still a community of its own.


- There used to be some kind of big tournament in Moscow, the Moscow Fighting Arena, but it is closed now. That is, do you assess the development trend of the community as upward, developing, or already declining?

Well, firstly, we have an official pro-competition rating, well, it’s quite old. When did it end, six months ago? We have no way to travel. And if you look at the achievements, I have a feeling that we have a player who is in the top 10, perhaps even higher - the top 5 player in the world. We have a player - ArnKratos, who is one of the top 10 players in the world. I say this, not just because he is my friend or because he is also from the post-Soviet space, also Russian. But I try to objectively look at how the man plays, according to his achievements, according to how he plays against other top players, how he plays against incomprehensible players - this is also very important, how he adapts and so on. And he can very easily find himself in the top-10, in my opinion.

As for the organizational issue: Moscow Fighting Arena was, of course, a wonderful tournament. Unfortunately, I played there only once, and I won the Moscow Fighting Arena 2018. This was the last Moscow Fighting Arena for Injustice. I won it - that's all. It was closed because the turnout was very low, and it turns out that now there is only one tournament, and still very few people come to it. In Russia, online is developing more than offline. Maybe, of course, we will have tournaments with a large prize fund, where everyone will come. People will come almost from Sakhalin, from all over the post-Soviet space, and from abroad too. Here we had Igromir at the beginning of this year, for which it was necessary to be selected. It was a cool tournament, but the only thing, of course, some organizational issues were very strange at the very finals, but it was a whole season where people had to be selected, go through points, qualify, then come, and foreigners also came there. Well, one foreigner, Nivek, a player from Greece came to qualify. It was a very cool tournament where "everyone was." And in some ways it even reminded this Moscow Fighting Arena, but even cooler. It's just that everyone I know was there. Of course, I want more of this, but at the moment, unfortunately, it... Well, it’s rather a decline. To be specific, it is more likely that the decline is offline. It’s more online. It’s less offline less.


- Do you think the coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact because there are fewer offline tournaments, or positive because people have started to play more online games in general due to the lockdown?

It seems to me that the pandemic affected EVERYTHING negatively. Maybe someone won from this, but these are more likely just some particular cases. Still, the pandemic had a very negative impact on MK, and not only on MK. Tournaments are canceled in all the fighting disciplines.

And people sometimes come to a tournament, they have a fight tomorrow, and they receive a message on WhatsApp “Guys, that's it, there will be no tournament, we are all going home. We will compensate you... ”, as happened with the Last Chance Qualifier, MK 11 Pro Competition, where was Kratos and where was MK Azerbaijan. Guess, what? They canceled it a day before. Everything was always canceled, nothing was done. And this is awful, of course, because I love to travel, and when I first went to Vienna on Viennality (I went to Vienna many times) and to all sorts of finals, and so on, and to Sweden, and to Ireland, and to Greece, everywhere, it was so cool! You see these people all the time. You constantly see them, communicate - and you develop yourself. And when you are at home, you are playing online with no one knows who, and with a bad Internet connection... In any case, it is negative. I understand that there are tournaments that offer a lot of money. There are a lot of community tournaments with good money... Here I stand, I think, the pandemic had a very bad effect. I would love to travel now, I would participate, it does not even matter what places I would take.


- For gamers and novice players who want to become gamers, tell us, how do you train? And in general, is there such a thing as training in esports? And which is better for you: sparring with live opponents or practicing techniques with the computer? Let's say some players answer that they are more comfortable with the ai training. What do you think?

Extremes are bad everywhere. You can't always just play by sparring. And you can't just stay in the training mode. But I am an adherent of one of the extremes that sparring is always better. I always play with people. Playing against a human is very important. You study match up not only against a specific character but also against a person. You must know the person. Because when you come across him at an important tournament, you know what he does. You know how he plays, how to “condition” him, so to say. When you constantly play with a bot, it is also important to work out things so as not to spoil your combo, not to get full-punished because you just didn’t learn something, didn’t know that it works like this here, and not in another way. ... That is, everywhere you need a middle ground. But of course, I am more of a supporter of sparring. I play more with people.


- Can we say that the most memorable esports tournament for you is your first tournament in Vienna or was it some brighter one for you?

In Vienna, yes, this is a fundamental tournament, but there was another tournament, Moscow Fighting Arena 2018, where I won. This is also a very memorable tournament in fact. Then others began. At the beginning of MK 11 and throughout the first year, I had first or second places all the time. They were somehow less memorable. I think Moscow Fighting Arena 2018 and Viennality 2018 are the most memorable.


- Were you nervous when you realized that you were close to victory, for example, at the Moscow Fighting Arena? If so, how did you handle it?

Rather, it comes with experience, but at that time I already somehow knew how to cope with myself during stressful situations. That is when you already have little hp left, and you need to come up with something at one moment, or when the enemy has little hp left, and you start poking at him so that he already died, but he does not die in any way, you start to get nervous and in the end, he catches you out in a mistake and kills you. And with such things, you actually need to be able to cope, because it is very important in terms of stressful situations. In fighting games, and not only in fighting games, in all competitive games, whether it’s sports or esports, anywhere, there are also a lot of stressful moments. Your experience is not just a collection of skill things that you can do, but how you play, how you’ve trained your character, how you know how not to make mistakes, how you know how not to touch things. And how you deal with stressful situations. If you don't know how to deal with them, it means that you are an inexperienced player. This means that you still have a lot to learn. And so it seems to me that dealing with such situations is very important. And to make important decisions, or rather, to have time to make them in these situations at one moment, literally - this is very important.


- Do you play other fighting games and how much time do you devote to this per week?

I don't play at the moment, but I used to play. I played SoulCalibur 6, participated in tournaments, but the most I won was 9th place in the St.Petersburg tournament. I played a little Tekken, but it was for fun, when nothing came out, we just sat and played Tekken. And I played a bit of Street Fighter alone, but, to be honest, it didn't work out very well, I simply didn't like it. Well, I mostly only played NRS games.


- How did you choose your main? And what helped in this?

It matters how beautiful the main is and how cool it is. And that's all. I mostly choose a character by its visual aspects

- What do you think about the appearance of characters like Rambo, Terminator, and Joker in MK? Not from the classic lore, I mean.

Well, to be honest, I don’t really like them. I would like to see some old characters appear. Rambo, Terminator... Cool, what else can I say? Hype for one day. But I wish that Smoke came out, for example - a lot of people want Smoke, Reptile, and other old MK characters.

Besides, there are very few players for these new characters. Very little for Joker. There are a couple of players for Terminator. I don't actually know how many people will play for Rambo. But I see that for some reason people are interested in him. Well, it's just boring for me. I would like exactly the old characters from MK 3, maybe even from Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, I don't know. 
That is, I see no point in these guest characters, they ... well, maybe they help the sales, but they don't really help the experience in the game itself.


- So is this preparation process based on patch notes or on your experience - in fact, you sit and play sparring?

Yes, I once looked at the patch notes and that's it, that's enough. And now it will be necessary, yes, to sit and play sparring mostly, of course.


- How do you feel about MK in general? That is, now is it a tool for making money for you, is it a hobby for you or is it something more and different for you?

Before, I could probably say that this is a hobby when I played Injustice. With the release of MK 11, this is already earning. I can’t say that this is a job. The job is different. And here it's just my business.


- Who is your favorite MK character?

I cannot say I have a favorite, there are those whom I like. These are Jade, Sindel, Kabal – I like these characters. The rest – well, not as much. Basically, I'm not a fan of MK.


- Tell me something about yourself. You are an actor in education. What’s your favorite TV series, movie, and book? And why?

My favorite TV series is The Vikings. Of the latter, I really like the film The Second Life of Uwe. And as for the book, it is most likely I See the Sun.


- And returning to MK. Which character do you dislike playing against the most? And why?

Most of all I do not like playing against Spawn because he is broken, broken and everything does not work correctly for him, movements are too strong. For example, Spawn, Rain, Fujin are the most disgusting characters for me in the game, I don't want to play against them at all. I'd rather play against the best, that is, top-tier, for example with Jacqui. I'd rather play 100 fights with them than 2 fights with Spawn and Fujin. Because they don't work the way they should.


- Is it because they are inherently unpredictable?

They become unpredictable because the rules of the fighting game are somehow violated. That is, when you should have an advantage, there is no such advantage. Even though the developers did not intend so. That is, it should not be so. And this is how it works, unfortunately. And they don't fix it. I don't want to meet these characters at all.


- Have you tried to write about this to Ed Boon on Twitter or somehow raise this issue?

There is no point in writing to Ed Boon, because Ed Boon, most likely, does not develop at all. This is most likely done by other people. And at all, community managers themselves, probably, do not understand anything in the game. Because they also take a very small part in this, they are involved in this very little. There are a couple of people there who can explain something, but they also have little impact. There is no point in writing to developers. Judging by the patches, they don't understand what the community needs at all. Therefore, I realized a long time ago that it makes no sense to conduct a dialogue with them. You just have to wait and see what happens.

- Tell me, are there any skills, in your opinion, that develop when participating in esports competitions or in general when playing computer games? Useful in general, for the development of you as a person.

 If you play fighting games, any competitive games, you, of course, only develop in them. I don’t know, maybe the reaction improves... Well, about other games, if I play alone, it’s easy. People say: "Wow!", "How to do this?", "There is no way at all!", "Dark Souls, - they say, - is difficult!". I don’t know, Dark Souls is as easy as shelling peas to all our guys. This is easy. And in life, maybe... I don't even know, most likely there is no such a thing. Maybe just the usual things - perseverance... Well, as in a normal job. Perseverance, some kind of psychological stability, mental health, and so on. I don't think there is anything that games directly help a lot.


- Judging by your Twitter, you have a normal social life, personal life, and, in general, you are an ordinary person. Do you agree that there is a stereotype in society that esports is something bad, that it takes a lot of time, that doing it professionally, people devote all their time to it?

It never seemed so to me. And it didn't seem like the community thought esports was bad. On the contrary, the esportsman in me evokes associations with a rich man, with sponsors, who has everything at the age of 12, cars, apartments, etc.

For me, an esports player is like that. And the fact that you have to devote a lot of time, that only geeks are successful in it is true. That is, you cannot achieve anything if you don’t work. And work is, first of all, time and perseverance. And if you do not devote enough time, then you, accordingly, will not succeed. So first of all geeks, of course, are those who succeed. Talent plus being a geek. And maybe even talentless people also succeed if they invest enough time in their business. And it's the same here. It can't be that some dude gets in who just has talent, and he kills everyone. No. He won't succeed anyway against the most experienced players, even if at first they weren't very good. You still need to work on yourself, in any business.


- How do your loved ones feel about your career as an esports player and streamer? Is it mostly support or is it something negative? You can answer briefly.

Many parents, probably, if they found out that their son wants to make money on games somehow, wants to start broadcasting online, they would most likely have a negative reaction. But I was lucky in this regard. For example, my father always supported me in everything. No matter what idea I had, he supported me. It didn't bring me any money then. When I just started streaming, there was zero money, zero at all. And he supported it anyway. And now, when I have already put enough time into it, when I have put a lot of effort, it has paid off. That is, they supported me - and it was rewarded. But they could not support me. And I would just work in some other place for 30,000 rubles as some administrator. I can’t say that they could influence my choice in any way. I was also lucky in this regard. I had the opportunity to do this. And yet there was a lot of support. There was no such thing that would say: “What are you doing there, nerd, huh? You play your computer games, huh?" No, that was not like that. Fortunately.


- What advice can you give to novice streamers and novice MK players? There may be some secrets or tips.

Yes, there are a couple. If to streamers, then there is one piece of advice: people are not watching the game, but people are watching you. And if to a player, then you need to devote a lot of time to this. It takes a lot of time to study it. You need to be ready for this.


- About a year ago I heard the news that Russia is going to introduce cybersport disciplines - Dota, WoT, Minecraft, FIFA, and CS - into the school curriculum. Have you heard about it and how do you feel about it?

The only thing I've heard is that Dota, CS, and Tekken will become a sport in Russia. That is, you can officially be a master of sports in Tekken, a real one. MK is not there, because it’s 18+. But regarding the school curriculum, this is already something new, to be honest, I have not heard this.


- How do you assess the prospects for esports in general? Can it replace, in reality, for money, for fame, say, football or Formula 1? Or will it still always be a highly specialized environment?

It always seemed to me that the prize money in Dota already surpasses some championships in football. It seems to me, on the contrary, that the whole thing will develop and develop. We are at the stage of a technological leap. It will be difficult to avoid this here. It seems to me that it is precisely esport that will take the leading position, and not the usual sport. It's only a matter of time, I think.


- What do you think, what will happen in esports in the next 5 years, in your opinion?

In 5 years, the only comfort will increase. Players will be much more comfortable playing tournaments, all sorts of online tournaments. Maybe the net-code in games will be much better. This will be very comfortable. You can be like "Oh, I have a tournament today." You get up, press the button - that's it, you're at the tournament, waiting for your turn. And now this is already there too. It's just at the initial stage, there are some mistakes, but this way, it seems to me, it will only become more and more comfortable, and everyone will be able to participate.


- If you could fix anything in MK right now without any effort, what would you fix or add?

I would remove push back to fatal blow on the block and that's it. That would be enough.


- Do you think that apart from the nerf of a number of characters you named, the rest of the game has been brought to a very good level?

Brought to a very good level - this is definitely an overstatement. There's a lot to do here, I'm just not a developer. I see these flaws, but ...

After the patch, everything is much better. But there are very big problems with hurtboxes. Very big problems with hitboxes, which cannot be fixed at all since the release of the game. Again, the unnecessary push back on fatal blow. There are generally unnecessary series of blows that no one ever uses. There are blows that only are obstacles. Sometimes you accidentally use them, and you get full punishment for it. I honestly don't even know. Many things. And a lot of work needs to be done. It's just that NRS make games every two years. And over these 2 years, it is impossible to properly balance 40 characters, I think.


- In general, what do you think is more popular in the world, Tekken or MK? Or Super Smash Bros or Street Fighter? Of these four?

First of all, MK is not a popular fighting game in comparison with other fighting games. Tekken is played by more people and more regions. For example, people in Asia do not play MK, It is forbidden there. MK is prohibited in Japan. One region is already being screened out. Then, all regions play Tekken, in general, they’ve been playing for all their lives. Much more tournaments, more online tournaments, more patches, more characters - more everything. And the game is very old, it has gathered its own community. Well, the most popular fighting game is most likely Super Smash Bros. It collects the most participants in tournaments.


- Do you play MK with your girlfriend?

Yes. My girlfriend also plays MK. She even streams MK X. And she sometimes asks me "How to do it here?", "What is here?" I don’t play with her, but she asks questions and I try to show what and how to do, what the optimal combo is to do here, and so on. Mostly she asks questions and also streams. We don't play like that with each other, I'm just like a coach.


- Have you ever created something like a manual or a guide for yourself? Let's say a Microsoft Office document, there's a note for Scorpion’s character: you need to do this and that first. Or do you keep it all in your head?

No, I've never done that. I am a player who has everything in his head, I remember everything myself. I don't need to look in a notebook. But, for example, we have a pro-player who writes it down in a notebook, for example. We have the player Mr.Ramires, he has notebooks, he has a list of matchups. That is, it is more convenient for someone, but in a different way for someone else. For example, not to me. I just sit down and play.


- With whom of the pro-players - Russian and foreign - do you communicate, one might say, are friends?

It's not that we communicate with Tekken Master - we know each other. We communicate when we see each other. FoxyGrampa - we get along very well when we see each other. With Dizzy - not on a short leg, but we also communicate well. HAYATEI is also a nice person. I am a real friend to very few American players. Europe mostly. We also communicate well with VIDEOGAMEZYO when we see each other, especially since he is part of the European community. I'm more likely to be friends with Russian-speaking players.

If looking at the top players - I am friends with Arnkratos, we communicate very well. We are also friends with Hamid MK Azerbaijan. I get along very well with Dedlaf. Who else do we have from the top players? True [hunter], Mercer, FLET, Ed Napier, CheapEddy, Dangos - with everyone. Yes, in fact, with everyone.


- What do you think, is there anything that hinders the development of esports in Russia (and the post-Soviet countries) and in the world in general?

Yes, there is probably one problem. It is called a "visa". You do not travel anywhere, it is difficult to do, you need a lot of money. This is the main problem. Otherwise, nothing else interferes. Unless you can afford either a console or a computer - well, yes, it gets in the way, of course. But this is not only in Russia. And so a visa and high travel costs.

- Are you thinking of buying a PS5?

Yes, but it’s not urgent, somehow later - I'll get it for sure.


- If you take all the consoles on which you have ever played, which one is the most convenient for you?

I'm a big fan of handheld consoles. Not that they are comfortable, but I really like handheld consoles like Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, PSP, Nintendo 3DS, Switch aesthetically. I love PS Vita, that's the kind of stuff. I really love portable consoles, probably, it somehow remained from childhood. My mom once bought me a Game Boy Advance, and it's such a feeling, it's hard to forget because this game console gave so many vivid memories. And I still love handheld things. It is a pity that at the moment such things are very rare.


- How do you deal with overplaying yourself? Like is there is something you do to rest from the game?

Sometimes, nothing. I just turn it off and that's it. If you don't like what you’re doing, then you will not develop. Man is created in such a way that he must develop endlessly in his favorite business. But if you get bored, then you will have an efficiency of 10-20%, it makes no sense. Better turn it off, sit down to drink some tea. Maybe to start the next day. Maybe take a week to rest. So many pro players do it like this. For example, Tweedy who is one of the strongest players too didn’t play for two months. Or even three months. I don't know what he did there, of course, but he just took a vacation - and that's it, he didn't play at all.


- Do you think there are any reasons that make people quit esports? Or is it a matter of desire: “I want to play” / “I don’t want to play”?

Esports, it seems to me, can be quit for only two reasons: it is not enough money or hemorrhoids. These, it seems to me, are the only reasons why you can leave esports, but otherwise - it's a great thing! You sit at the computer, play games. This is wonderful. And you earn money!


- How do you keep up your physical shape? Are the muscular characters from MK some kind of incentive for you to keep yourself in shape, or not?

Well, in general, the characters in a cartoon or a film have never influenced my self-perception, but I'm not a fan of sports at all, I'm not a sporty person. But it is necessary to keep fit. Because if you don't go in for sports in this business - you sit in one place a lot - this will greatly affect your health. For example, I definitely need to do 100 push-ups, 100 squats every day. I stream online, get up after the game, do push-ups. Because it's important to disperse the blood. And when you are in good physical shape, your head works better. I noticed this recently, that the better you feel, the better you play the discipline itself. So you need to run in the morning, do push-ups in the evenings. Anything. Because this is a dangerous thing.

- How do you rest in general?

Movies, trips to parents, shopping, cinema, movies. It happens that some single games are good. No stream. I just sit down and play alone. These are the ways I mostly rest. There is also house cleaning.


- Can we say that your second hobby after MK is walking/traveling?

Yes, I really like traveling, but lately, I haven't traveled for so long. But if we speak about the present moment, then, first of all, I like to stream, of course. Perhaps traveling comes first, I just forgot what it feels like. I did not go anywhere because of the world situation with the coronavirus.

Here is one of Dubasik's stream

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