Interview with Wolmar

Interview Date: May 2013
Hometown: Bordeaux, FRANCE
Years Playing SF2: Since 1991
Main Character: Dhalsim
Other Characters: Honda
Favorite Fighting Game: Super Turbo
Other Fighting Games: Last Blade 2, MK2
Weapon of Choice: HRAP 3

Wolmar with the documentary crew (6Coups6Mouches and Usulmaster) in Las Vegas.

STR: Hello Wolmar. Thank you for the interview. I think a lot of players have learned many things about you from the TOURNAMENT OF LEGENDS documentary but I’m sure there is much more to know. Let’s start off with your history. When did you start playing SSF2X?

Wolmar: Well I started to play that SF version in 2009. I started to play online in mid 2008 but I played random arcade games and Champion Edition. Then I played snes online, with titles such as Mario kart, and street fighter II Hyper fighting. I got into ST when I realized it was the most popular and most played SFII version. At the beginning I didn’t enjoy it that much. I was more of a HF fan. That’s why my very first main was Old Honda, because I couldn’t stand not to control the HHS with the new version lol.

STR: How did you develop as a player so fast?

Wolmar: Well I guess I had solid basis to begin with. I always have been quite good at video games (90’s era), and managed to dominate all my friends in every VS games (super soccer, super tennis, Mario kart etc). I wanted to check my true level, with that amazing opportunity to play thousands of dudes online. I feel I’m still leveling up even these days, because Dhalsim is such a hard character to master, not when it comes to execution but strategy. So I reached sort of a plateau around 2011, and I feel I’m still learning and have to learn now.

STR: Do you consider Dhalsim or Honda your main character? How did you decide on these two characters with two completely different styles?

Wolmar: Well it took me time to decide on that one. I started Dhalsim in 2010, and Honda was always my main until then. When I had to decide for a character in a locked character tourney, it always was very hard for me to choose, because strangely enough I could feel more secure with Honda even in bad matchups. Like, sim just loses stamina too fast lol. But Dhalsim is such a rich character, he’s really amazing to learn. And he’s strong in the game. So I started to think that it was maybe a better choice overall in tourneys. In free picking tourney, it’s very interesting to play these 2 characters. They are complementary characters, they compensate their bad matchups, so I always try to maintain a good level with Honda. I first played Honda because he’s strong and he likes friendship food and fight lol. I used to play him as a brainless character like everyone else I guess, but I like the fact he can be very tricky. At some point, you’re quite forced to find something else than just rushing with hands, and Honda got some interesting weapons, yet almost always risky. And sim, yeah I like him because of the way he can dominate every character if you play him perfectly. There is always an answer with him, although it might be very hard to do.

STR: What other players have influenced your play style?

Wolmar: Yoshimura, Kusumondo, Gian, Jason Cole, Immortal’s Chun-Li.

STR: Can you tell us a little bit about the SSF2X scene in France? I think most Americans know about X-MANIA Europe but that’s probably about it.

Wolmar: Well it is very active. We have at least three majors tournaments (Stunfest, X-MANIA, ESB), and there are some other little events as well. People love the game, newbies or not. I think France is the country where ST remains the most popular in Europe. Plus ToL documentary brought a lot of new players, young ones for the most part. I think the ST scene is really not going to die in our country. Also, the best players in Europe are mostly French. We have the best Blanka, Guile, Dictator, Cammy, Fei long and so on in Europe ?

STR: How about the scene in the rest of Europe? Who are the top players? How do the European countries stack up against each other?

Wolmar: From what I can tell, best players outside France are Orf, Spinalblood, ExposeD, Sharizord, and maybe some others. I heard about a guy called Damien (!), old school UK player, supposedly a beast, but I never seen him play. Giga MSX was the all time best European player I believe, but he kinda retired now. I think we do well in general against other European players. They are really good though, and I like to team up with some of them when I can, during team tourneys. I praise Orf’s ryu and Spinal’s Sagat ? The two others doesn’t come that much in tournaments because they’re from Sweden, and certainly live with crows and paintings on their faces in dark forests lol. I wish someday there will be an event gathering the best European players; France Vs rest of Europe would be dope !

STR: X-MANIA Europe is considered a spectacular tournament here in the USA. Can you tell us your thoughts on this tournament? It was announced that this will be the final X-MANIA Europe. Where do you see the future for SSF2X in Europe going forward?

Wolmar: Well Wovou owns an arcade venue in Toulouse, and he’s an ST hardcore fan. So he once came up with that idea to ask Mikado (I think?) if they were Ok if he took that X-MANIA license for a European Event. I think he got surprised when the answer was enthusiastically YES! That tournament is the most prestigious one outside Japan, with EVO ST events. Lots of top Euro players are there, plus Japanese guests (First edition: Kurahashi, Kusumondo; Second: same plus yaya and Komoda ). The atmosphere is intense and friendly. It’s an ST only dedicated event, ain’t that crazy lol. So yeah, people who are there all share the same passion for the same game, it’s really something special. And I think the Japanese players truly enjoyed coming there as well, because the competition was tough (Milanea beating Kurahashi in team’s final, and last year Damdai beating Komoda !). And let me ask a question: when and where is US X-MANIA going to take place?!!

STR: Hmmm. Well, I’ve recently heard a rumor about X-MANIA USA possibly happening so we’ll see! And there will be big names from Japan attending this week, correct? Â Kurahashi, Aniken, Hanashi. Who do you think will be the favorites to win?

Wolmar: Yeah this year is going to be crazy. Aniken and Hanashi are confirmed, and Kurahashi is coming again. But Wovou told me there’s gonna be some more surprises so we’ll see. In my opinion, Kurahashi is again the favorite in my opinion. He’s just too good, it’s… you just have to watch to understand. Aniken and Hanashi are very tricky and amazingly talented, so it will not be easy ; not as easy than against Kusumondo, as Ryu/Honda matchup is just too hard at that level. Damdai can do a nice result, like past year, but I think the Japanese players will own the event once again. (Editor’s note: I heard last week that Aniken will not be able to attend unfortunately.)

Wolmar playing at Stunfest with Ken Bogard watching.

TOURNAMENT OF LEGENDS documentary featuring Wolmar. Click here for a playlist of all the episodes.

STR: How about TOURNAMENT OF LEGENDS? How was your experience here?

Wolmar: Well, it was just mind-blowing. I never, ever thought in my life a game would allow me to travel for free in a place like Las Vegas ! We were just 4 friends having the greatest fun and time you can imagine. I remember everything. When we just arrived at the airport, when we where going inside the Caesar Palace, I just have everything in my mind. We were happy to find welcoming people there ; US people are nice and courteous with foreigners, that was much appreciated lol. I have as much memories from the ToL experience than I have from the trip itself, so I will only talk about ToL to shorten it up ? It was very impressive to walk into that huge ballroom, and to see all those faces I only saw in videos. Like, meeting Jason Cole, Choi, Shirts and so on; I know the old school US scene a little bit, and it was just great. About playing, well it was just as amazing to play with such names, on dat CigarBob’s cab ! Nerdgasm lol. Even just watching games was so nice. About my results, well I’m pretty happy, and now I don’t care about the way I was eliminated, and I try to do everything now to be prepared and rely on myself only in every cases. 9th out of 32 prestigious players, it’s really a great result for me anyways, and to be honest, the final ranking depicts quite well the general level in my opinion. Damdai and AfroLegends are the best outside Japan. Then a few players with pretty much the same level. And Japanese ST players a lot better than everyone else lol.

STR: Is there a routine you have in order to get ready for a tournament?

Wolmar: I used to have one, now I’d say I just come and play. I try to play a bit more before events though.

Wolmar vs Alex Valle from EVO 2012 ToL

STR: Let’s switch it up with a couple of fun questions. What are your favorite movies or TV shows?

Wolmar: Always hard to point out a single movie ! If I have to say one in particular, it would be Ran, by Akira Kurosawa. It’s the most majestic film I ever watched. I like Stanley Kubrick very much as well, especially Barry Lyndon. Some other movies that were really important for me : Farewell My concubine, Akira, Idioterne, Nosferatu, 12 angry men, Man bites Dog, Raise the red lantern, Tonari no totoro, the exorcist, In the name of the father, Texas chainsaw Massacre, We need to talk about Kevin, Nous ne vieillirons pas ensemble. Oh and one of the most disturbing film I saw was “Invocation of my demon brother”. Not that the images are gore or really choking, but actually the aesthetic of it makes it really dark and insane. And I like that in general in art : when something manages to make you feel something without using obvious means. Sure you can (try to) watch “serbian film” or whatever, but I just prefer it when it’s kind of suggested. Oh and “Tetsuo” as well. That film just impressed me so much. Oh and when I was a kid I really enjoyed watching Coming to America, Terminator II, and Over the top. And biggest fan of Inner space ! My personal limit for that kind of movies would be “Begotten”.

STR: Favorite book?

Wolmar: I love to read essays rather than novels. I like a lot of authors, so… If I have to just pick one, let’s say “Reveries of a solitary walker”, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It is simply sublime. But there could have been many many others. I am a big Nietzsche reader as well, I still admire old authors like Descartes or Plato. We have a lot of amazing French authors, with sort of a golden era from the 17th century to the end of the 19th century. I admire a lot of them. I love Paul Valéry also. But I like some American / English authors as well, such as David Hume, or Edgar Poe, especially “the purloined letter”.

STR: Favorite foods?

Wolmar: I’m a gourmet =) I like to eat exceptional food, and I’m lucky enough to live in a beautiful country for that. I ate several times in god tier restaurants, and it was just mind blowing, almost like enjoying a piece of art. It was French cuisine, it was beyond words, I promise lol. But I enjoy a lot of foods, actually I think every culture has great food. I love Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Mexican food, all of them are so freakin’ good. Even American food can be just as great. But “Fast” and “food” should never be put together ! Food is sacred =) I mean I can take junk food like everyone else, but I don’t really enjoy it, I have to take my time for it.

The infamous match vs Marsgatti from TOURNAMENT OF LEGENDS.

STR: Okay, back to Street Fighter! Â What are your thoughts on HD Remix? Street Fighter IV?

Wolmar: Well, it allowed to spread the word about ST, and it brought some top players (Sharizord, Kareeeeem, Aerorockman, Er commander…). Apart from that I don’t enjoy playing the game too much, because I’m too used to ST. You can’t call that a shitty game, because changes are not that important to make it a bad game. Though, this game feels less precise to me strangely, but it should be my personal impression. But all that stuff around Sirlin is stupid in my opinion. Dude wanted to make ST live another life, and well he somewhat succeeded. I really won’t be the one dissing his work, even if I really prefer the vanilla version of the game. SF4, well, I like to watch high level playing of it, but the game feels to different from SF2 for me, so I don’t enjoy it. I don’t share the common opinion which would be “well that’s a noob game, execution is too easy”. So why are there always the same players winning the competition ? Even with this easiness of execution, you have to think about your matchup, to react to the opponent game etc. Besides, an easier execution makes you playing the game a different way than a game like ST, in which the execution is (too) hard. It’s just another approach of the game. In conclusion, I don’t have too much bad things to say about sf4, except it’s not as fun (and as good looking) as a classic 90’s fighting game. I would enjoy an Alpha 2 tourney much much more than a sf4 tourney lol. But well, it’s kind of pleasant to watch still.

STR: Why do you think ST has had such longevity and popularity?

Wolmar: Because it’s both a very accessible and a very deep game. It is the basis of roughly every fighting game. I don’t think this game is gonna die. People still play Super Mario bros. 1 or Zelda 3. ST is this kind of game. Like a piece of art, time cannot pass through. When you play that game at high level, you always find new stuff despite the simplicity of the game play. That point is really amazing. Also, the game quickness and brutality is very enjoyable to watch, as everything can happen anytime. Nothing is ever done until it’s over. That’s the definition of a good show. ST has everything to last a long time still.

STR: How much time do you spend playing SSF2X these days? Â How much did you play at your peak?

Wolmar: These days I’m logged in GGPO pretty much always, but 90% AFK doing my stuff and livin’ my life lol. Playing, I’d say one hour per day roughly. But that’s mainly not playing to level up, it’s just I love that goddamn game haha, so picking boxer and going for throw loops for a 15 mn match is fine for me. I like to watch other players matches sometimes as well. At my peak, well maybe 12/15hours a week when I just started to play online. Man, I was really as crazy happy as if I were a 14 years old teenager in an arcade venue in the mid 90’s!

STR: Who are your three favorite SSF2X players of all time? And why?

Wolmar: Hmmm, hard question, because I love a lot of them ! If I have to pick three only, It would be Gian, the best Dhalsim ever ; Kusumondo, because his game play and attitude are both god-tier ; Pony, as he is the most entertaining player to watch in my opinion.

STR: Favorite SSF2X moment? (either as a player or a spectator.)

Wolmar: Teammate Milanea defeating Kurahashi at X-MANIA Europe 1. It was the craziest ST moment I ever had !

STR: Anything else you’d like to tell us about you that people may not know (hobbies, special skills, trivia) or any final words?

Wolmar: Well, I guess I have some unorthodox opinions about the way to consider certain aspects of the game. I can think of 3 things essentially. First, I don’t think tournaments are always that of a relevant element to determine someone’s skill. Second, I think video games tournaments are ridiculously short, like almost nothing else. Like, who would accept a tennis match to be done in 5 points ? It’s really something we have to think about. Third, I think online play shows your level of playing, at least in 99% of the cases. Online excuses are, in majority, just bad loser’s excuses, and nothing else (when the connection is playable, means under 120ms on GGPO I guess). I never saw ANY player being not really good online, being godlike offline. I knew only one case of a player being really good online and screwing up timings offline, but that’s it. Players make it like a big deal, like difference would be awesome and stuff. That’s just bad faith. I may be the only one to think this way. Though, I think I really would be able to elaborate, but well I won’t since I think you can never convince anyone in general anyways lol.

STR: Thank you for your time Wolmar! I think a lot of players learned about you from the ToL documentary but will enjoy learning even more about you and the French and European scene.