|Interview Date:||December 2011|
|Hometown:||Fountain Valley, CA|
|Years Playing SF2:||20|
|Main Character:||Dee Jay / Boxer|
|Favorite Fighting Game:||Super Turbo|
|Other Fighting Games:||SF2: CE, SF2: HF, SSF2< Alpha 1, SFEX 1 & 2|
|Weapon of Choice:||Sanwa JLF / Sanwa or Seimitsu buttons|
STR: Can you remember your first experience with Street Fighter and/or ST?
AfroLegends: My first experience with ST was probably at my local arcade, Beach and Warner, when I was maybe 9 or 10 at the time. My bro, Donovan, took me there one day and I couldn’t wait to play it. My brother actually trained me on how to play Street Fighter when I was small and he was a very good player himself. We would basically split the games that we played. So at the arcade, I watched my brother play and wasn’t surprised that he was beating people down right away at ST.
STR: You were helped trained by Alex Valle, were you not? How was that experience, having such a legend help you out like that?
AfroLegends: I used to play SF: AE on Xbox Live back in the days and that’s how I met Alex. This was like back in 2005. We had some good games and we ended up talking on AIM and it turned out that he lived right around the corner from me, like liteally 5 minutes away. So right before EVO2k5, which was my first ever tournament, Alex invited me over and we played a few hours on his Super Turbo arcade cab before I made the trip to Vegas. I ended up getting 9th place at that tournament, eventually losing to Ohnuki and Jason Cole, both great players by the way. Anyways, after the tournament, Alex and I started playing more regularly. I would come over and we would play for hours. He is a very unorthodox, aggressive player with the ability to adapt on the fly. He really brings the pressure by always rushing and attacking so that really leveled me up in terms of playing that style and knowing how to fight against it. He is just a really smart player and is capable of playing the whole cast which gave me plenty of practice in matchups that I was weaker at. But yes, he is indeed a legend.
STR: Can you tell us about how you got your nickname? It seems like people are always asking about this.
AfroLegends: Well, when I came up with that nickname, I was sporting a small fro. I used to play Ready 2 Rumble Boxing and my main character in that was Afro Thunder. And since I was sporting a fro at the time and my main characters were Black in ST, DeeJay and Balrog, I decided to go with Afro. I got Legends from Ken Masters. I pretty much just wanted something similar to that. It just sounded snappy and powerful to me, haha.
STR: How familiar are you with the Japanese scene? Any thoughts on their scene versus ours?
AfroLegends: I am very familiar with their scene. I’ve always watched tons of Japanese footage to see if I can steal or incorporate anything they have into my game. Their level of play is just amazing and breathtaking to watch. I pretty much patterned my Balrog by watching Tamashima and Tsuji play. Their scene is a lot smallr than ours and that makes sense why their players are so strong. You only get better by playing good players and pretty much everyone over there is good. I do believe that the top players in the US can hang with Japan’s best, but overall, they are better than us due to level of competition.
STR: You are considered the top Dee Jay player in the US and historically, he has not been a popular character here at all. What attracted you to him and become a main character of yours?
AfroLegends: What attracted me to him at first was his killer combos and the ability to chain small attacks into another. I also loved the fact that he had so many great anti air options with his insanely good normals. He was just a lot of fun to play due to the fact that you can beat your opponent by playing patient and just countering whatever they do or changing the pace up and bombarding them with a great offensive assault. He’s just a really balanced, all around character that I felt was underrated at the time due to his similarities to Guile.
STR: You play both characters at an elite level but do you consider Dee Jay or Boxer as your main? Or is there really no difference?
AfroLegends: There is really no difference but these days, I enjoy playing Boxer more. It is just fun rushing people down, haha. But I am pretty adept at both characters, and I consider them both my main, like 1A and 1B.
STR: What area would you recommend new / intermediate players to work on to improve their game?
AfroLegends: I really believe they should work on the fundamental parts of their game first. When I first started playing Street Fighter, I always wanted to land the big combo and I would lose matches because of it. When I became more familiar with the basics and learned the importance of fundamentals is when I started winning more.
STR: How much time do you spend playing ST/Street Fighter these days and how much did you spend at your peak?
AfroLegends: Well, I just got GGPO recently installed thanks to Papasi, and I’ve been on there quite a bit. I guess I’m averaging about a hour a day now. At my peak, It was roughly 40 hours a week, which was definitely crazy.
STR: Is there a routine you do in order to get ready for a tournament?
AfroLegends: These days, I just try to play more often. Maybe go into training mode and work on combos and timing.
But before, when I didn’t have a full time job, my routine would be to dedicate one day of training against each particular character. So one day I would use just practicing combos, setups, perfecting spacing, developing strategies, and figuring the nuances of the match against Guile, then the next day I would do the same but against a different character. The reason I do this is because you never want to be surprised by anything in tournament play. SF is a game of reactions and if you’ve seen it before, more likely you will react to it faster.
STR: Why do you think ST has had such longivity and popularity? And what is it about ST that keeps you playing?
AfroLegends: It’s just a great game and any match can end any second which keeps it exciting and you really have to be on your toes. I still play ST because it’s still fun. I enjoy trying to outthink and ouwit my opponents. Honestly, I don’t thnk I’ll ever stop playing. It’s a timeless game.
STR: What do you think about HD Remix? SF4?
AfroLegends: HD Remix wasn’t a perfect game but I enjoyed playing it. My main characters weren’t radically changed so I played it pretty much like I did ST and that worked fine for me. I don’t really think too much of SF4. I just feel like it’s an inferior game to ST and people are only playing it because it’s the new craze and the flashiness of it. I guarantee you it won’t be around 20 years from now. It’s not a timeless game like ST.
STR: Who are the top 3 ST and HDR players in your opinion?
AfroLegends: I think the best ST player in the US is John Choi, and then in no order: Valle, DGV, and myself. For HDR, it’s probably Choi, SnakeEyes, DGV, and myself.
STR: Who would you say has been your toughest opponent or rival?
AfroLegends: My toughest opponent that I’ve played would probably be John Choi but I consider my rival to be DGV. We’ve played each other pretty regularly over the years and it’s just a lot of fun playing him. He can beat you in so many ways so you really have to be on your game when you play him.
STR: What is the fondest moment in your SF career?
AfroLegends: My fondest moment in my SF career would probably be winning EVO2k9 and then beating Daigo at EVO2k10. I’m sure everyone’s seen my infamous match vs Dagio at EVO2k6 and it felt great getting revenge against him, haha.
STR: What is your involvement with the Street Fighter / ST scene these days?
AfroLegends: Well, I just try to enter as many tournaments as possible and try to keep the scene going. I’ve been playing ST for a long time so anyone that wants to learn or asks for input, I try to help them out as much as I can.
STR: ST still has a nice hardcore following in Japan with many of the legendary players still playing. There is still a dedicated scene here and while some old school players are still entering tournaments when they get a chance, many have kind of disappeared. Do you think a big ST event could bring a lot of these great players back to the scene? Would you like to see something like that happen?
AfroLegends: I would like that to happen, but I honestly don’t think it will due to the fact that everyone’s older, may be married, have kids, and dedicated to a job. It’s hard to find time and I don’t blame them because I’m in the same shoes right now. But SF is in my blood, so I will always keep playing.
STR: Anything else you’d like to tell us about you that people may not know (hobbies, special skills, trivia) or any final words?
AfroLegends: I just want everyone to keep playing and supporting ST. Go out to tournaments around your area and have some fun. That’s all and thanks for having me!
STR: Thank you so much for your time, Jason. Good luck at So Cal Regionals next week!