Monday, March 10, 2014

Post-SCR 2014 Utah Edition: An interview with Steven Malecki

  SCR 2014 took place in Irivine, California from February 28 - March 2, drawing competitors like moths to a yoga flame.  Competitors traveled from Korea, Japan, Taiwan...Utah........
  You bet.  Out of those that traveled from our little slice of the Rocky Mountains, three people placed in the top 32 of the Street Fighter 4:AE 2013 tournament of 256 participants:  Renzo (iPeru) took 7th, Gustavo (801 Strider) took 17th, and Steven (SRM Slinkun) took 25th. 
  Recently, I interviewed Steven via Facebook about his thoughts on the tournament and what he did to place well at SCR 2014.


What, if anything, did you do to prepare for SCR 2014?  Out of that preparation, what was most responsible for you placing 25th and not, say, just going 0-2?

STEVEN:  Well, the big thing was training with Gustavo.  We worked out a few of my general flaws with how I zone and footsies. 
     The biggest thing we ironed out though was my attitude.  I would get really upset with myself if I thought I teched and I didn’t, or got hit out of one of my poorly-timed frametraps.  I would get mad enough to where I wouldn’t think enough on “what should I do next?” 
     But there was definitely a moment where the training got me though pools.
     This match, here, against DSC Beehol (Guy).  At about the 6:06 mark, the dude “reacts” to my with U1 and takes a round.  It made me super salty, and two months ago, I would have been mind-fucked and probably would have lost.  I realized that’s what was happening though, stopped it, chilled out, and realized he was all out of tricks.
     So while the ultra was happening, I was about to look back to Andy and make a bewildered face.  Just as I was about to do that, though, I kind of realized that I needed to be planning for the next match instead of making stupid faces.  I was thinking, “OK, I’m just going to play my game, but play it better.”


You’re in the losers bracket at this point, and your 7th game of the day was against SD Pnoy as Bison.  Watching the match, I heard “In the corner, it’s not 7-3!” and later “Get f---in’ jumped on!”  You lost the first set 2-0.  If you can recall, what was going through your mind at that point.

STEVEN:  After that match, I knew exactly what I did wrong and how to fix it.  I wasn’t worried in the slightest.  I thought, “Actually, yah guys, this matchup really IS 7-3…and you just won 2, so do the math.”  It really is terrible, I just wasn’t punishing stuff that first match.

Was the focus crumple into backbreaker airthrow for a PERFECT to remind them of that fact?  I mean, you could have just thrown them…

STEVEN:  It’s my favorite finisher!  Haha!  I was really feeling myself at the end of that round.  I didn’t want to just win, I wanted to demoralize him.  I LOVED the silence from his boys at that point.  Truth real quick, respect to SD Pnoy though.  He’s a pretty cool dude and really did great in pools.  He took care of Kineda for me.


During your tournament run, you played Jayce the Ace (Viper) and GamerBee (Adon). Not only are those matchups bad, but you had to face seasoned professionals.  Against Jayce, you tried both Guile and Vega against him and neither worked, but against GamerBee, it was the family man all the way, with similar results.  What compels you as a player to stay with your main or switch it up?

STEVEN:  I’ve been spending a LOT of time with Claw lately.  Losing to iPeru at Youmacon was a big wakeup call for me to have a backup character.  First time I used Vega in tournament was SaltFest against iPeru after he bodied my Guile, and I managed to win.  After that I’ve been working on Vega a lot more. 
     Vega/Viper is actually in Vega’s favor…I just was unfamiliar with the matchup.  I’m glad I tried, but I need to play the matchup more to get that experience.  I would have used Vega against GamerBee too, but he 7-0’d Zeus at Winter Brawl, so I decided to just not even risk it and stick with Guile.


As the years have passed and the stream views have piled up, I notice more and more pros using other players as coaches, giving advice between matches. Did you have a coach around you at all during SCR 2014, and are coaches helpful for you?

STEVEN:  This was my first time running with some people backing me up, and it is definitely nice.  I had Andy and Gus at my back for most of my matches.  For the most part, I might have lost a round, they would ask, “Do you know what to do?”  I would say “yah" and just keep playing.  They can really help calm you down in between matches.


You seem to be a studious recorder of your tournament matches.  What does that do for you as a player and competitor?  Do you ever worry that you’re giving your opponents help?  I bet a few here in Utah are going to be watching for the next ranbat.   

STEVEN:  Well, it’s an ego booster for sure.  And, obviously, to go over mistakes.  
     [Am I giving my opponents help?]  I hope so!  For example, both myself and Orikasa researched each other before SCR 2014.  We talked about it, I asked him if he was going to counter-pick Ibuki after he lost with Chun.  We had a pretty good laugh. 
     I really want people to be better, especially here in Utah.  I want people to watch my videos and say “hmm, ok.  He does this thing a lot, I bet I can take advantage of that.”  Because then, I have to adapt and grow too, and I get a better chance of beating top players as a result.


Anything else you’d like to say about your tournament experience and how to prepare?

STEVEN:  Go to every tournament and play your best local players if you’re serious about getting better.  Especially here in Utah, most of us are white as snow, and we need all the practice we can get to overcome our racial handicap.  White people suck at fighters. haha

Last question:  Online AE against pros, or locals against locals – which helps your game more?

STEVEN:  Online is garbage.  People say you can learn matchups online, which I’m sure works to a point, but you just can’t react to some stuff online that you can offline, and stuff like that may be central to matchups.  Like bulldogging (e.g. walking forward and blocking on reaction, as against Blanka balls).  It just isn’t reliable online.


     Please, help Steven improve by watching all his recorded videos on his YouTube page.  He will also be hosting Utah's first Ranbat of 2014 on Saturday, March 22nd at 4:00pm.  Details are on the 801 Utah FGC Facebook page, and will be finalized as they are known. 
     Also, hit up casuals!  Start your own!  Provo will have casuals this Wednesday, March 12th at 6:30 at the Branbury Apartments.  Where are your casuals and why aren't you going?!?!?

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