If you happen to have the official SOULCALIBUR V strategy guide, you might’ve thought about who was behind it, working hard on the frames, damage and other technical stuff. There were actually several well-known players, including the European SC Impact winner, Hyrul. This week we’ll go a little into the UK scene, Hyrul’s SC Impact performance and, obviously, the guide.
Di: As usual, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hyrul: I wanted to play fighting games against other people ever since SFII emerged on the SNES in the early 90s. Unfortunately my enthusiasm counted against me, as I played and practised constantly, while none of my friends shared the passion for it! So I didn’t get to play against others until Xbox Live came out a few years ago, and I finally got a taste for competitively play in Dead Or Alive Ultimate.
I got an X360 just to play SCIV online, because I really liked the idea of playing Soul Calibur against other people having played SCII vs. the CPU to death. I went to my first tournament in 2009, thinking I’d be pretty good, and my first opponent was a French guy called Malek, who’d apparently just won a big tournament. I quickly realised that I wasn’t anywhere near the standard required to enter tournaments, and stopped playing the game. But in 2010 I thought I’d give it another go. That’s when I found 8WayRun, and was able to learn about the game without having to teach myself everything.
When it comes to my name… Back in the DOAU days, my Gamertag was King of Hyrule, chosen after I’d just finished re-playing through Ocarina of Time, one of my favourite games from school days. I shortened it to Hyrul after seeing Talon misspell it on the forums; it just kinds looked good. Age of Truth comes from the Soulcalibur story (which was really great in SB and SC, a lot of effort clearly went into the first two games). Xianghua was, unknowingly, the first character to wield Soul Calibur, also known as the Krita Yuga. I found out that this was the name of a Golden Age of Truth from Hinduism. So Age of Truth was a way to identify myself with Xianghua without just calling myself Xianghua4Lyfe or some crap.
Di: How has the UK community been doing lately?
Hyrul: Having got back into the game, I went about trying to find people to play. Unfortunately, the scene in the UK died pretty quickly after SCIV came out, as a lot of the top players from previous games either didn’t like it, or stopped playing for various reasons. So there pretty much was no scene when I started out.
That was when I got a bit of luck. Instead of just playing bad tempered Ranked Matches on SCIV like normal, I randomly hit Player Match, and bumped into a really nice guy called GeeJay. Through him I met a whole bunch of enthusiastic players, including Zaigonen, Chronic Smoke and Deathsm8. Even though the netcode was bad, we improved a lot very quickly by playing each other all the time and talking about the things we’d learned. We even met up a few times in London to play offline, and by now we were completely hooked. Zaigonen would travel all the way from Wales just to come to the offline sessions.
Zaigonen and I set up our first tournament in 2011, and went about rebuilding the scene. Again we got lucky as players like Shark, Joel, Aion, Grunt Dude and Blade came to most of our events. Then old school players like Ash, Wil and Talon returned, and by the end Synraii and Malik Freaborne were travelling down to play too. And now SCV’s come out, a whole bunch of new and old players have come in, we’re getting better, and things are looking up.
Di: I have to admit that when I was watching UK and European SC Impact finals I wasn’t happy about your performance and your success was quite a suprise for me. How would you rate your performance during these two tournaments?
Hyrul: Thanks! I must say, the response to my victory in that tournament has been overwhelmingly negative from all but a handful of players (outside the UK). I saw this week that Lolo expressed his disgust at my win on YouTube! I am not sure that I have ever seen this kind of response to a tournament victory. Confidence is very important when approaching tournaments in this game, so I try to brush off these kinds of opinions and focus on the positive.
As for my performance, I was really happy with it. In the UK tournament, Wil is a player I know very well and had played many times leading up to the event, but he played very differently this time in the Winners Bracket, and I had to come back from Losers beating Talon, ShinJin and then Wil all in a row. These were 3 of the very best SC UK players from the scene in SC 1-3, so I was really pleased to get past them all. As for the EU tournament, I was not confident at all, but could relax after winning the UK tournament. I didn’t use Tira at all in the UK tournament because I didn’t think I was good enough with her to win the big games. But she is my favourite character, so as I figured I had no chance of winning, I used her against JTB and Akire, and to my great surprise, managed to overcome them both.
I had played Akire a few times in SCIV, and he had beaten me so badly that I really dreaded playing him. I felt really humiliated when I would play him because of the way he plays, I would always get completely destroyed. So against him, I tried to figure why in the past he had beaten me so badly, and made some adjustments to my game to try to stop him mixing me up all day long. I also felt at this time that the Leixia Mitsu match-up was impossible. And my mental game was really solid this time, I blocked a lot of 2K BEs and made him feel the pressure instead. Against Trace, I had been fortunate to play Chris Oroichi’s Viola online a lot and had trained against her a bit with Leixia, which is why I switched to Leixia and was able to deal quite well with his setups. It gave me confidence when I watched some other matches and saw that even the top European players did not seem to know how to respond to her pressure, and again this helped me relax.
So yeah, in conclusion I was really happy with my win; it was the result of being relaxed, and making good, positive choices during my matches. My confidence was very low after my poor performance at Cannes, but winning two tournaments in one day helped me to rebuild that confidence and keep trying to improve.
Di: Before the World Championship tournament RTD said that you are a very smart player, picking up some of the best characters during the UK and European finals (Leixia, Tira, Natsu) and he was looking forward to what would you come up with in USA. Why did you decide not to switch your characters, even though they had been nerfed in 1.02?
Hyrul: Yeah I saw those comments! I really appreciated RTD saying that, because he probably had no idea who I was before that event, but was still encouraging rather than critical when my name appeared amongst the 8 Impact finalists.
But as it happens, my character selection had nothing to do with strength. I played Xianghua only in SCIV tournaments and really loved the character. She was what had made the game so fun for me, even when I just used to play against the CPU on SCII. So I was disappointed to see Leixia had lost a great deal of the variety exhibited by Xianghua in the previous game, but still took to her naturally, and quite enjoyed playing her after getting over the initial disappointment. I used Taki quite a lot in SCIV, so was also very comfortable with Natsu. I also use Nightmare quite a lot (including in the UK finals), having learned a lot about this character in SCIV from my friend Deathsm8. Finally, when the very first SCV demo version came out, I went to play it in London, and was drawn to Tira, who I’d tried to play casually in SCIV but with less success. She quickly became my favourite character, and still now I hope to become really strong with Tira.
So in Vegas, there was never any question of me switching characters. I try to avoid bad match-ups when I can, but in general I like to switch characters simply because it makes the game more interesting, as PS have simplified the movelists so much compared to SCIV.
Di: I’ve heard that you were one of the players working on the SCV official guide. How much time did you spend on it? How did it look like?
Hyrul: Yes, I worked on the guide with many other players from November to January. All the authors worked really hard with the time they had to produce the finished article. daGOTTh and I essentially treated it as a full time job, and it was exhausting, particularly over Christmas and in January when our deadlines had already been missed. At the end I was working 18 hours per day, and a few times even depriving myself of sleep to work 30 hours straight, to get it finished. As we were all in different countries, there was very little playing time; we were mostly writing, testing mechanics and testing frame data. Some of our work did not make it into the final guide, meaning that it contained a few errors, but overall we were really happy with it, and I hope it was useful for some players looking to learn more about the game.
Di: I believe that you were working on the guide while the game was far from being completed and you had to face a lot of character changes happening during your work. Did it make it harder?
Hyrul: Yeah definitely. A lot of the frame data we’d done changed, but we weren’t actually notified of the changes, which made things really hard. For example, while JAG, Saitoh and Bruce worked on Maxi, they noticed by chance that his 4BB had gone from -4 on block to -19! These kinds of radical changes really affect the way the guide was written, in recommending strategies and key moves for each character. For me, the biggest challenge was the 1.01 patch. They gave us this patch after our writing deadline had finished, and said that Viola’s combo properties had changed. So I had to come up with a whole list of new combos and tech traps in a single session for her, and as she was a brand new character to the series, this was really hard.
Di: What would you change in SCV?
Hyrul: Not too much. There are times when I miss SCIV’s more thoughtful approach. In SCV it seems it’s more rewarding to play high risk sometimes, rather than trying more careful, thoughtful play. But the game has its strong points too. I think most players agree that the damage overall is a little too high. A German player named ChaosK has suggested increasing the vitality of all characters to solve this, which is an elegant solution. On the other side of the argument, the high-damage combos do make the matches a little more exciting, as it means you have to constantly make sure you don’t get hit by your opponent’s main damage moves.
Balance is generally very good I think. I would like to see the very top tier characters nerfed a little, as played at their best they can make some match-ups very hard. But only small tweaks would be required. DLC for additional characters and improved story mode(s) would be nice, though is unlikely. But the Brave Edge and Just Guard systems have been really well implemented to make SCV different from the previous iterations, but a fun and involving game in its own right.
If you are interested into reaching the UK community, visit http://edgemasterseries.com, where you will find information about both online and offline Ranking Battles. Interested in signing up for the upcoming online RB (X360 only)? Click here (anyone can join, it’s not UK-exclusive). Want to try yourself in offline events? Visit London’s Trocadero every month.