Interview: BAS – a Capcom vs. SNK 2 Legend
Insights of the past and present tone of fighting games.
It's been 10 years since I've come across BAS, one of Japan's legendary competitors in the Capcom vs. SNK 2 scene. During my earlier tournament days, I can recall the crew from the original Chinatown Fair era used to get together during the evenings and swap stories about his performance and ability to perform roll cancels with expert precision. My only memory dates traces back some 10 years ago, at Evolution 2002, hosted at UCLA. BAS traveled from Japan with a star-studded ensemble of friends. . . it was a memorable event, getting a first-hand opportunity seeing international talent compete against our best players throughout North America.
After fighting games emerged from its hibernated state, I wondered what ever became of this iconic CVS2 player since many of his fellow peers/friends like RF, MOV, Kazunoko and Kindevu all remained active in the latest, conventional titles. As it turns out, he's still actively playing — just not the same games that you and I commonly play at major events. Yes, Capcom vs. SNK 2 is still alive and well in Japan, as BAS briefly discusses below, along with his insights on the scene, sponsorships and even touches upon Street Fighter 4 to some degree.
BAS and I worked very hard to ensure that his responses were as precise to the meaning he wanted to get across with each question. Our one-on-interview is as follows. Enjoy.
Thank you for taking the time to speaking with us, especially with our hectic schedules. It’s good to speak to talk with you again; can you briefly introduce yourself to everyone? Also, Can you briefly talk about your previous fighting game career?
Hello, my name is D44 (or BAS as I am commonly known internationally) from Tokyo, Japan. My main game is Capcom vs. SNK. I also used to actively play Alpha 3 for approximately 7 years.
My fighting career achievements include winning EVO 2005/2007 (CVS2), Stunfest 2009/2011 and A-Cho Japanese Nationals 2011/2012.
I also won 4 national tournaments in the Alpha 3 circuit.
How has life been treating you over the past few years?
After EVO 2008, I quit playing video game competitively and focused on working a customer support rep at an international fiber optics provider. I've actually tried looking for a new hobby, something that involves being part of an indie rock concert, traveling… drinking, etc.
Capcom v. SNK 2 was considered to be one of the more enjoyable crossover titles released in the past decade. What were your favorite experiences with that installment?
Basically to create the best team in the game. CVS2 featured 6 grooves with over 40 characters, so there was a lot of possibilities. Not to mention, a lot of top players throughout the world who were very strong.
I experimented with a lot of characters in order to find the best, efficient team that would ensure that I could effectively win tournaments. Eventually, I came up with A-Groove Bison, Vega Blanka (in that particular order). I felt this setup offered the most effective character strategy, best results and greatest experience.
What would you say was the most memorable experience with your competition overseas?[Thinks] Hm. I have four memorable experiences that all took place at international tournaments:
1. The first was at B5. I didn't know USA players played Capcom fighting games and that they love playing them just as much as the Japanese.
2. Winning Evolution 2005. I didn't imagine ever winning a major event like EVO (or SBO) until that year. Winning that was definitely an unforgettable experience in my fighting game career.
3. The next was at Evolution 2008, the CVS2 Grand Finals. 99% of the audience was all cheering for John Choi, but there were only like 4 – 5 people cheering for me. I lost the match, but [the few in my corner rooting] was supportive. Unfortunately I don't remember who they are — but I wish to thank them for cheering for me at that time.
4. Finally there was Canada Cup 2011. I decided to finally come back and entered a Street Fighter 4 tournament major. My results were pretty bad, because I only played the game for about 2 – 3 months [laughs].
Did you consider the Alpha series or Capcom vs. SNK series to be more enjoyable, and can elaborate your preference?
Well, I think those games are almost perfect, but CVS2 is definitely better suited for my tastes. I enjoyed Alpha 3, but the Custom Combo system is just too broken.
Infinite combos is cool, but I dislike how characters have "free charging" while they're in this state. Also, I think it's a bad idea that you initially start out with a full Super meter at the beginning of the match. Players tend to dismiss making effective strategies and instead just seem more concerned with executing custom combos (CC).
With Capcom vs. SNK 2, A-Groove is very strong, but you had to build meter on your own (unlike Alpha 3), so a player needed to develop an effective strategy to build up that meter safely (and wisely). CVS2 also is a "team battle game", meaning that even if you lost your first match, you still had more opportunities to come back since it featured multiple characters per team. You can even switch up the order to avoid potentially bad matchups. I definitely feel that Capcom vs. SNK series provided more flexibility and options compared to other fighters.
Who would you say was one of your strongest competitors, and why?
Hm. I honestly can't choose one specific player because I feel there are a lot of strong competitors in the scene. However, when it comes to CVS2, I'd say the strongest competitor is Bocchan (#1 K-Groove player from Osaka who specializes using Blanka, Cammy, and Sagat). He possesses an exceptional skill level, good ground game, anti-air and execution ability.
He always make each match challenging when we play. Playing against Bocchan is very exciting and I hope to have an opportunity to possibly stream this matchup in the near future.
(Off-topic, my number one competitor when it comes to drinking games is John Choi, haha – he's unbeatable).
[Laughs] That's sounds like a great tale to tell one day. So how often do you spend time training and what steps did you take to ensure that you played at peak performance?
Back when I was at my peak during the heyday of the CVS2 era, I used to play for 5 hours every day because other top players would typically spend (on average) 5 hours a day practicing. I'd start out by going to the arcade in order to identify my weaknesses, then come home to practice tighten up any holes in my gameplay on the console. I also spent a lot of time working on Roll Cancels and Custom Combo setups too.
What are your thoughts on the Street Fighter 4 series? Ready… go!
It's the BEST GAME EVER. [Editor's Note: I am pretty sure BAS was being sarcastic here, given his love for CVS2]. I hope Capcom will make Street Fighter V with new systems, haha.
Many old-school players talk about how "friendly" games in general have become, particularly fighters for the sake of attracting a broader audience. What are your thoughts on that?
Making a game easier (or more accessible) is great since it doesn't alienate any specific individual from picking up the game, but the basic system should be stable and solid for veteran players too. In fact, all good fighting games possess good gameplay engines. . . I wish there were more in existence.
So what do you currently play, when you’re not actively competing in Capcom vs. SNK 2 tournaments?
I spent time playing Super Street Fighter 4 online at home. Playing online is free and very enjoyable when sparring with friends. Other than that, I don't play any other games at all. I would like to try Marvel vs. Capcom, but I don't know how to play; so I need someone who's actually capable and skilled to show me the ropes.
So what’s your take on high-level competitors and sponsorships?
I think it's a good idea, but this format seems only geared for certain players as sponsorships don't play that big a role in Japan. Currently most players (who in my opinion are deserving of this opportunity) aren't sponsored – so I hope that will eventually pick up here in the future. If given the chance, I hope to get a sponsorship too, haha!
Do you feel that sponsorships have helped to enrich the level of competition or has in some ways taken away from the actual focus why players should actively compete in the first place?
No. Not at all. I actually think some players will actually be motivated to compete even harder upon getting sponsored (rather than the reverse). Sadly, this opportunity seems like only become available to a select few (see: top players). It's as if anyone else doesn't get that same acknowledgment to be supported — I hope that more players will have a chance to get sponsored in the near future.
What else do you actively enjoy doing in your spare time (i.e. hobbies, favorite non-fighting games, etc.)?
I enjoy going out to eat great food, like sushi and ramen as well as going bar hopping.
Let me know when you come out to Tokyo, I can show you the best spots to enjoy Japanese foods.
You got it, I definitely will. If there was one thing you'd like to change about game development – what would that be, and why?
Generally before a game is released, they will set up Location Test sessions here to gather player feedback and opinions. The thing is, it seems the game development team doesn't properly understand (or always acknowledge the input they collect). One of the most current examples is what took place with AE to AE V. 2012, Capcom announced the changes and many players gave their input how to make the gameplay better. However, Capcom opted to ignore just about all the input, and instead incorporated random changes.
I don't think they play AE, or even understand the game. If they played Street Fighter 4, they can understand how stupid unblockable setups, vortex and other gimmicks that involve the corner actually are. Those points have never been fixed. The development team should seriously play the game diligently, understand the basic system and strategies — if they're incapable of playing the games, they shouldn't bother even gathering opinions.
Do you ever think you’ll actively compete in the modern fighting games?
Hmm. . . right now, I am not so sure, mainly because I just don't have a whole lot of time as of recent to commit to playing video games. If I quit my job and play fighting games, then I think that I can win EVO once again – but that's too much of a risk I am not prepared to take. My dream though is to get back to placing Top 8 at EVO, being on that stage is very special to me.
In any case, whether or not my skills are sharpened for AE 2012, I will definitely make an effort to attend EVO 2013. I wanna see all my friends again and just have fun!
I'd like to personally thank BAS again for allowing us to conduct this interview. You can follow him on Twitter at @Ryo151 and can also catch his latest tournament performance in Capcom vs. SNK 2, January 13, 2013 — hosted at the Mikado Arcade. The event will also be featured on stream. More details can be found at the Mikado Arcade website, available at: http://www.ustream.tv/user/mikado_00