Xavier "Som­niac" Nardella

Com­pet­i­tive Street Fighter player and two-time Bat­tle Arena Mel­bourne (BAM) cham­pion

Hyper - - PRO GAMERS -

HY­PER: What at­tracted you to Street Fighter in the first place? Have you played any other games com­pet­i­tively?

SOM­NIAC: I've al­ways had a love for com­pet­i­tive gam­ing. Be­fore my time in fight­ing games I played War­craft 3 and Star­craft: Brood War, and my forte was Quake 3, plac­ing first in many Mel­bourne tour­na­ments and con­stantly within top five at in­ter­state tour­na­ments, in­clud­ing WCG for Quake 3 na­tion­ally.

Like ev­ery­one, I had played many fight­ing games when I was younger but did not know of a mas­sive com­pet­i­tive scene un­til Street Fighter IV. I had spent quite some time play­ing Street Fighter III with friends in the ar­cade, but the game was never re­ally big and com­pe­ti­tions were not fre­quent.

In 2009 when Street Fighter IV was re­leased, I strove to win the lo­cal tour­na­ments held at the ar­cade, and fo­cused all my en­ergy to­wards prov­ing I was the best player with my char­ac­ter. There I met many mem­bers of the fight­ing game com­mu­nity and we grew to be friends, meet­ing up reg­u­larly to play.

I have now been play­ing fight­ing games com­pet­i­tively for over 7 years, and have com­peted around the world in many fight­ing games in­clud­ing all ver­sions of Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter V, King of Fight­ers 13 & 14, Street Fighter x Tekken, and Ul­ti­mate Marvel vs Cap­com 3. HY­PER: Tell us about your train­ing reg­i­men. What does your day-to-day rou­tine look like when a tour­na­ment’s just around the cor­ner? SOM­NIAC: When a tour­na­ment is com­ing up I'll spend a lot of time work­ing on char­ac­ters I find dif­fi­cult to fight and if there is a known player at­tend­ing I'll fo­cus more on their habits. This means sev­eral hours of match footage re­view­ing and train­ing mode, with the goal of try­ing to de­velop strate­gies that I can use in the match.

It can be dif­fi­cult to find time with full time work, but I of­ten sched­ule a few hours a night to work on each game I am com­pet­ing in. HY­PER: Does be­ing a com­pet­i­tive Street Fighter player im­pinge on your so­cial/fam­ily life at all? SOM­NIAC: I wouldn't say that be­ing known for play­ing Street Fighter has any stigma be­hind it or caused any dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions to arise through fam­ily or work. There's dif­fi­culty in man­ag­ing time for the most part. I'll of­ten find is­sues with trav­el­ing to

events, as it’s usu­ally an en­tire week­end and my part­ner of­ten has other events planned that I need to skip out on.

Oc­ca­sion­ally work is a con­cern as well, I need to plan ahead of time to make sure I'm not ex­pect­ing to be work­ing on a tour­na­ment day. HY­PER: How has the com­pet­i­tive fight­ing game scene in Aus­tralia changed while you’ve been in­volved with it? How do you see it evolv­ing over the next five years?

SOM­NIAC: There have been def­i­nite changes with the scene over the years. Fight­ing games orig­i­nally had a start in ar­cades, with a very grass roots ap­proach to tour­na­ments. Over time we have seen a greater move­ment to­wards mak­ing fight­ing games es­ports, with some ini­tial grow­ing pains to­wards how to ap­proach com­mu­nity devel­op­ment to­wards that goal.

Peo­ple were con­cerned at the be­gin­ning that we would lose some of our iden­tify and grass roots feel by in­volv­ing our­selves in es­ports, but over time and with a fair bit of trial and er­ror, I be­lieve the fight­ing game com­mu­nity has re­ally em­braced es­ports lately, with the last few Evo­lu­tion world cham­pi­onships and the sea­sons of Cap­com Cup. I be­lieve that now we've reached a per­fect mid­dle ground where we have our same grass-roots com­mu­nity feel and iden­tify with the pro­fes­sion­al­ism that is ex­pected when deal­ing with ma­jor spon­sor­ships and in­vestors. HY­PER: How long can a pro gamer ex­pect to be at the top of their game? Do you think you’ll still be play­ing Street Fighter in five or ten years’ time? SOM­NIAC: Age does not seem to be a fac­tor when it comes to Street Fighter with a sev­eral com­pet­i­tive play­ers be­ing over 30. I ac­tu­ally think that age can be an ad­van­tage in fight­ing games, as with age you're ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a vast amount of knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence, just hav­ing good re­ac­tions isn't enough to be good at fight­ing games be­cause you can be tricked into mak­ing the wrong de­ci­sion.

Not to say you need to be old to play though, there are def­i­nitely amaz­ing

young play­ers in the scene these days like Liq­uid Nuck­leDu & John Takeuchi who have com­bined their re­ac­tions with train­ing from their peers to be­come sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional threats. As long as you are will­ing to learn, you can play fight­ing games com­pet­i­tively. Hy­per: What was your great­est ever vic­tory as a Street Fighter pro? Som­niac: My great­est vic­tory would have to be my first Bat­tle Arena Mel­bourne win (BAM 4), it was the first time I'd ever won a ma­jor event and it was in my home­town, which made it even more spe­cial. Ev­ery­one re­mem­bers their first big win as their break­out mo­ment so that is why it will al­ways hold a spe­cial place in my mem­ory and on my tro­phy wall.

Ev­ery time I at­tend Bat­tle Arena Mel­bourne, I want to make sure a Mel­bourne player takes it out so that we can de­fend our turf – that alone makes any win carry ex­tra weight for me. I was able to do this again in 2015 with BAM7, de­feat­ing both in­ter­na­tional com­peti­tors Per­fect Leg­end (USA) & Waza (New Zealand) in the losers fi­nals and grand fi­nals re­spec­tively to win the tour­na­ment. Hy­per: What about your great­est de­feat? Som­niac: There are def­i­nitely losses that sting more than oth­ers and they aren't al­ways grand scale losses. I've had many times where I could have beaten some of the world’s best in tour­na­ments but fell short by the small­est mar­gins. One of my most notable was against Evil Ge­niuses|Kbrad at Evo­lu­tion 2013, which came down to the last few sec­onds and re­ally could have gone ei­ther way. It was a nail biter that I wish I could have taken as it's ev­ery fight­ing game player's dream to take an Evo­lu­tion cham­pi­onship, and a win here would have taken me a step closer to that goal.

I treat each de­feat is a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence though, adding more strate­gies to my game play so that I won't lose the same way again. Hy­per: What tips do you have for as­pir­ing Street Fighter pros out there?

Som­niac: Reach out to your lo­cal com­mu­nity, get­ting to know the play­ers of your lo­cal scene and sched­ul­ing reg­u­lar train­ing ses­sions with them will help you level up much faster as you can bounce ideas off your peers.

It's also im­por­tant to try to find an­swers to prob­lems, al­ways take note of how you lost and make sure you can work on a strat­egy to fight it. Fight­ing games have a nearly lim­it­less ceil­ing for im­prove­ment be­cause as you get bet­ter, so do your op­po­nents, and they will al­ways present a new chal­lenge ev­ery time you sit down to play with them.

There's re­ally noth­ing like the Aus­tralian fight­ing game com­mu­nity and you get to meet both amaz­ing play­ers and peo­ple by at­tend­ing events. Speak­ing of events, re­mem­ber to reg­u­larly check OzHaduou.net (for Syd­ney and Aus­tralia-wide events) and CouchWar­riors.org (for Mel­bourne-spe­cific sfuff). You won't re­gret it!

Fight­ing games have a nearly lim­it­less ceil­ing For im­prove­ment be­cause as you get bet­ter, so do your op­po­nents

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.