We’ve joined forces with 8WR, bringing you weekly interview with SC players. This week’s Interview Time! introduces you to one of the most well-known Ivy player. Ring talks about his SC background (as well as the Polish community), SCV Ivy, the whining SC community and his secret techniques when playing on a PlayStation pad.
Di: I know you very well and probably could tell A LOT about you but guess it’d better to leave it to you to introduce yourself .
Ring: To start off, my real name is Nicholas but people know me as “Ring” (which is related to a popular horror movie). Ok, story time: my SC journey started with Soul Calibur II on PS2. I loved the game, but I was a casual player back then. My neighbour was my regular sparring partner, we used to play a lot, but never actually had the courgage to play against the famous “Soul Calibur Team Poland”, which consisted of the best players in the country like Amer, Sab, Reset, Di or Soul. I consider this one of my biggest mistakes in my “SC career” – at the time, the SC Community in Poland was very active, SCII was the most popular fighting game and had a lot of interest so later I realized how much I had missed.
At the beginning I couldn’t find a suitable character but Ivy quickly caught my eye. I was blown away by her design and style but I thought she was a bit too complicated (large moveset, multiple stances, CS/SS and 5Hit-JF). I decided to try her anyway and she has been my main character ever since. Right now she’s one of the main reasons I play the game. I love everything about the character and I can’t imagine a SC game without Ivy.
For me everything has changed when SCIII was released (my favorite game in the series along with SCV). I think design/music wise it was absolutely the best. I had finally started contributing on various SC forums, including the old sc.com. At that time our scene wasn’t in a very good shape (a lot of people hated the game because of the numerous glitches and terrible balance) but Di (you =P) somehow managed to keep it alive. For me, SCIII period was a time of great fun and also a lot of frustration. I struggled terribly with Ivy against Di’s top tier characters, mainly Xianghua. Fortunately players like Linkrkc showed me that it can be done and that kept me going. It was also the time when we had our first taste of international competition against German and French players.
The Polish SC Community had its ups and down. SCIV.. was definitely a down, haha. When the game was released, everything started with a bang: we had our biggest SC tournament at the time with over 60 participants, which was also the first major I won. Unfortunately the game itself lost interest in Poland pretty quickly. It was due to system changes which made the game boring. A lot of characters were simplified, the lack of soul charge,many cancels, advance/retreat guard, WL moves and the new Critical Finish completely turned people off.
If it wasn’t for online, I’d have dropped the game too. But there were always people from around Europe wanting to play me so I kept playing it. Online mode was basically all I had and despite being terrible, it has helped me to gain a lot of matchup knowledge, which is the most important thing in competitive play in my opinion. I had a lot of success during SCIV era and I believe that even if you don’t have a very strong offline scene, such as France, you can still become one of the best. It just takes a lot of dedication.
SCV is a new beginning for us. Our Community is active once again and we intend to keep it that way. We may not have the quantity but we do have some quality players. I’d say that, except me and Di, the best players in Poland at this moment are CheeseOfTheDay, Matt-JF, Devil, Heniek, Bolgan, Aragh and PePe. You may know some of them as they contribute on 8WR in various Soul Arenas.
Keysona (Mitsu) vs. Ring (Ivy) – Soulcalibur IV FT5
Di: How do you like SOULCALIBUR V?
Ring: I think the game is great. I love the system changes (well, not ALL of them), they make up for character simplicity in my opinion. Critical Edge, Brave Edge and especially Just Guard make the game more dynamic and fun than the last game. Design wise the game is also much better, it reminds me of SCIII in a way. For me SCV is what SCIV should have been system wise. The online mode is truly remarkable as well. The game still has some balance and glitch issues that hopefully will be resolved in the near future.
Ring (Ivy) vs. Shen Chan (Cervantes) at European SC Impact finals
Di: Ivy is a character who has always been given the biggest number of changes when moving from one game to another. I know that both you and lots of Ivy players do not like the SCIV to SCV changes (not balance-wise but lack of options and general “boredom” when using her). Could you elaborate on this?
Ring: When I first got my hands on the game in October 2011 during my trip to Paris, I felt like “Ivy is no more. The character has been destroyed”. In a way, I was right. She now is only a shadow of SCIV Ivy. Her three stances (Coil, Whip and Serpent’s Embrace) have been removed and along with them a large portion of the moveset. I know that Namco did this on purpose, to attract new players to Ivy – players who wanted to use her before but they felt she was too complicated to use. It’s hard to say if their plan was a success because Ivy doesn’t seem to be very popular at this moment. However, back then I only noticed the bad things about the character.
Ivy does have something to offer after all. Despite being much simpler than her former self, I think she is still one of the most difficult characters to use (and win with) in the game. This comes from the fact that she has execution-heavy moves that are vital in her game, like 5hit-JF which is her strongest whiff punisher and meterless combo, or iCS which is the most difficult JF in the game, and the fact that her overall NH damage is somewhat below average (this is also something that a few other characters struggle with, mostly Leixia whose damage is even lower). Because of this in order to be effective with Ivy you must master her difficult JFs, learn to punish everything you can with 6B8K and 1B BE, and generally always be on point with her. It’s hard to compare her to the old Ivy, but this one is definitely much more challenging to play.
Soulcalibur III Ivy Skill Project by Ring
Di: It looks like it’s the first time for the SC community to whine that much about so many things. Do you think that’s because of how the fighting games developers have made us used to thinking in the last few years that we may have influence on the balance? Street Fighter IV and Mortal Kombat are the two mains examples. Long ago we simply had to deal with everything. Adapt. Learn. Go to the lab. Now most poeple would rather talk about their character’s weaknesses instead of play.
Ring: I used to whine too, haha. At the beginning I couldn’t adapt to the new movement, system changes and I felt that pre-patch Ivy was among the weaker characters. It takes a while to realize that sooner or later the new system mechanics will play a huge role in competitive play and perhaps tiers won’t be the most important factor anymore. A few years ago we had no choice but to do adapt, even if the game had a terrible balance and was full of game breaking glitches like SCIII.
Right now things are quite different, and Namco has reached to the community for the first time so it’s understandable that many people have the (false?) impression that we may have some influence on the game. We all want a balanced SCV and our character to be tournament viable.But I don’t think it’s possible in 100% because after talking to Odashima-san and Utoh-san in London I realized the game developers seem to have a different vision of the game and their own beliefs when it comes to tiers. I appreciate the fact that they keep updating the game, but the balance patches seem to be a bit rushed in my opinion and don’t address many important things such as notorious whiff issues.
Di: Please share some details about your pad and how have you been performing Ivy’s throws in the past games. I believe people may find it very interesting.
Ring: Maybe I should start with a small history lesson for people who aren’t familiar with Ivy. When she was first introduced in Soul Calibur on Dreamcast, she only had Summon Suffering. She got her new signature throw, CS or Calamity Symphony, in SC2. I think both CS/SS have been regarded by the SC community as the most difficult moves in the game because of their complicated input. CS always had an even more difficult version, which we call iCS. It was basically done by doing it very fast. The input for both CS/SS had stayed the same until SCIV, which not only introduced a new input (321491) but also iCS was not a speed dependent JF anymore, but a 2 frame timing dependent (1:A+G) JF. It became very difficult to master. SCV wasn’t any different and completely turned Ivy’s throw game upside-down. SS was no more (now it’s done as A+G,A+B+K) and CS was given 28284666 input. Perhaps the most controversial command throw to date is SCV’s iCS, which again is a speed dependent JF.
With a 40 frame window limit for the entire input and 5 frame limit for each direction (press and release) it’s undoubtedly the most difficult Just Frame in the game and perhaps the most difficult move in the history of SC. I suggest everyone who feels their execution is good to try doing this move!
Myself I have always used analog stick for CS/SS. The main problem was that people would often duck my grab attempts or simply break them when they heard me doing CS/SS, which can be pretty noisy. The solution to that was a sewing thread – when wrapped around the stick it reduces the noise of the analog movement by 80%. For me it works wonders during offline sessions. For SCV I also planned to mod my Sixaxis controller to “southpaw” mode which swaps the analog functions for left handed people (that way I could do CS with the right stick, using my “stronger” hand), unfortunately the only person I found capable of doing it charged me 150$, so I had to refuse the offer haha.
Di: There have been little questions in this interview and your answers were so long… Any last words before we’re done and you will kick my ass again in SCV?
Ring: I just want to say that being a part of SC community has been a great experience of my life! I have never traveled so much across Europe (next stop… Russia! =) ) and met so many amazing people before. Well, I hope I didn’t bore you too much! Thanks for this opportunity. I also encourage anyone interested in playing Ivy to visit the Ivy Soul Arena.