The Italian pro player was really delved into what makes him such an effective kompetitor
If you've paid any attention to the MK EU scene, you'll surely know the name Murko after his fantastic rise to the top of the rankings in the Pro Kompetition for EU West. He then went on an incredible run in the Mortal Kombat Playstation weekly invitational winning four straight tournaments and taking second place the fifth time. He hasn't slowed down in recent times as he is still on top of the pile in the EU West with no signs of being knocked off his perch. When you think of the best Scorpion players in the world, AVirk might be the first name that comes to mind, but Murko is easily a serious contender for the best Scorpion player globally.
Recently, we got a chance to catch up with the enthusiastic gamer. He joined the RIZE team back in March and made an immediate impact. In the interview, we go over how he started out, his love for Scorpion, the Italian FGC and how he feels about NRS, and the apparent reluctance to put out new content.
Starting out and the EU scene
What video games did you grow up with, and how did they shape your preferences?
My favorite video games when I was a kid used to be Burnout, Monster Hunter (for PSP), Devil May Cry, and GTA (especially San Andreas and IV). Suddenly one day, I wanted to try out something new, I was like 9, and I picked Tekken Tag Tournament. I immediately noticed it was an amazing kind of game that gave me a challenge and I fell in love with it.
How did you get started as a competitive player?
After playing Tekken, I knew MK9, which I played (not competitively) until I picked MKX, where I started doing tournaments. Scorpion's always been my main!
How has the landscape changed for European professional players recently and which players within the region have given you the most trouble when facing off against them?
Recently a lot of new amazing players showed up in the competitive scene. The thing is, they're all incredibly young and already show a lot of potential! Even with COVID and without offline events, thanks to ESL, Pro Kompetition, and other cups, there was the opportunity for them to show off their great skills. I wonder how far they will get.
The players who gave me most of the trouble were definitely VideoGamezYo, Joshtq, Asodimazze, Disarted, MKJavier (for their crazy solidity, reactions, and adaptation), Damastir, Dedlaf, and recently K-Top (because of their sick Jacquis).
Scorpion, Scorpion, Scorpion
You are considered one of the best Scorpion players globally; what drew you to the character specifically?
I've always been playing him since MK9 because I like the character himself. His name, Scorpion, reminds me of my zodiac sign (Scorpio). He's a badass, and I like the fire element! I chose him despite his gameplay, though on MKX, he had a sick rushdown, and on MK11, he is very solid and full of good staggers and shimmies. That's what I based my game plan on: aggressive rushdown, mind games, and whiff punishes.
Who are your top three Scorpion players from around the world?
The top 3 Scorpion players, considering the tournament results in general, are definitely Avirk, me, and MKJavier, in my honest opinion. Unlike them, I'm more focused on rushdown, hard reads, and reactions.
What are the most valuable mechanics that Scorpion has in the game that makes fighting with him worth it?
The most valuable things he has on MK11 are definitely:
- The f3 stagger that opens the opponent up to mind games such as throws, an overhead, a low, or plus frame pressure, and so on;
- The fast overhead b3 that is really useful to open the opponents up;
- The kb throws
- The 21 plus frames string
- The teleport to punish zoning.
Competitions and dealing with pressure
Your recent success in the Mortal Kombat Pro Komp is just another in a string of successes which also include the Playstation weekly series. What was your preparation process for these tournaments?
My main preparation was literally to keep playing ESL qualifiers and Invitationals.
How are you able to maintain such a fantastic level against the equally great competition every week? Does the shorter time between tournaments help?
I focused to feel more confident and not letting my nerves take control. I didn't play much Kombat League, excluding the first ten seasons, because I seriously think that yeah, it could be helpful for beginners, but long private sets with good players are way more helpful. I used to keep my momentum because I was really motivated to win the money and show them what my Scorpion can do. The shorter time between tournaments probably helped me to keep it, but sometimes a longer break is really needed if things don't go as planned.
Were there times during your winning run that you felt you couldn’t win? How did you deal with that?
I felt I couldn't win some months ago, like in June or July (2020), because I had other stuff on my mind. The best way to solve the situation is to have a break from the game, focus on what is giving you problems, and when the time is right, strike again.
What is your motivation or major goal in MK? What are you competing for?
My main goal is definitely to win more tournaments and get more recognition, and being the best Scorpion. I think I need to find my momentum back to fulfill it and to learn a good secondary character that can help me in the hardest matchups. I've been trying Cetrion, Jacqui, and Spawn, but I don't feel as confident with them as when I play Scorpion.
What will you say are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a player?
My biggest strengths are definitely my rushdown and reactions, other than my matchup knowledge. My biggest weakness is definitely my lack of patience!
The Italian FGC and friendship with Asodimazze
How would you describe the impact Asodimazze has had on you in Mortal Kombat?
He's definitely one of my best friends in the community, and he really helped me improving since MKX. We always played tons of sets together, and he also helped me a lot with his powerful coaching and advice.
Who are some of the other players on the Italian scene that you feel should get more love and recognition and what is the scene like in general?
Other great Italian players I'd like to mention are definitely my teammates Zoker, LMarchese, Spyware and ProfeXional,, ManiacZombie, Peolo, PlatoNetero, Gollywomp, AwesomeAlfie, RoninEleven, and HishQuTen. The Italian FGC is very friendly, and I really respect its members!
MK11, NRS, and updates
Where do you stand on the lack of new content for the MK11 debate? Do you feel the developers have not done enough to keep the game relevant, or are people overreacting, and the game is fine as is?
I think there's a bit of overreaction, but I still believe NRS could give us a deeper balance patch because the last one literally just reduced the life bars of some characters. I think the game needs more fixes and some nerfs and buffs. Speaking of new content, a Kombat Pack 3 would be great, but not necessary. We already have a lot of good characters.
The lacking of new content hasn't reduced my interest in the game though; I have no intention of dropping it.
At the moment, MK11 is one of the most balanced fighting games ever. I might say to the developers to follow the Tekken or DBFZ patches example, where the games change more with buffs and nerfs but still keep balance (even if those games aren't as balanced as MK), also to add some new mechanics to make the game more fun.
For the love of hype anime
It seems you are an avid anime fan; what are your favorite titles, and why is Jojo number 1?
Other than JoJo, I love hype anime as Dragon Ball, One Piece, Kengan Ashura…
But honestly and surprisingly, I'm also interested in romantic/dramatic anime such as Steins; Gate, Violet Evergarden, Higehiro, BGS, Your Lie in April… and in slice of life anime such as New Game, Nagatoro-san, Gabriel DropOut (please don't call me a weeb).
Not to mention Persona 5, which is both anime and videogame, that really had a great impact on my life. I recommend it to everyone.
Talking to Murko was an absolute pleasure. If you do not already follow him, check out his Twitter.