Player Spotlight from CEO 2015: 801 Strider

US players have had a relatively quiet year so far in the 2015 Capcom Pro Tour, but 801 Strider continues to make increasingly bigger waves with consistently amazing play, staying composed under pressure, and ability to adapt. He has done well at previous CPT events, but at CEO 2015 he really elevated his status as one of the top players in the US. This past CEO was one of the toughest events outside of Evolution, and 801 Strider rose to the challenge. He defeated Liquid|NuckleDu in pools. In Top 32 he sent MCZ|Daigo Umehara to Losers Bracket in a stunning upset. In top 16 he got wins against YOMI|Dieminion, EG|PR Balrog, and a sensational comeback win against MCZ|Mago in Winners Semi-Finals. His only losses in the tournament were both to Japan’s Kazunoko.

At CEO he won against some of the best players in the world. In this player spotlight from CEO 2015, we get his thoughts on CEO, on the Pro Tour, and more.

Beginnings and Thoughts on the Capcom Pro Tour this Year

When did you start playing competitively and what made you decide to do so?

Well, as a child I lived in Mexico for a few years, where the arcade culture was very strong. I would visit nearby shops that had MK and KoF and get my ass handed to me. I’ve always been ultra competitive, so those beatings only fed the fire to get better. Fast forward a decade or so and now I live in Salt Lake City, UT. I happen to stop by a local game store to browse what PS2 games they had and stumble on a discounted copy of “Street Fighter, Anniversary Collection”. It was like 10 bucks so I decided to give it a try. I booted up SF3, Third Strike and thought it was amazing! I knew nothing about the game mechanics or combos but still found it fun. Later I decided to look up YouTube videos to see how to do combos and somehow clicked on a video titled “Evo Moment 37”. I still get chills watching it, from that moment on I knew I had to be a part of this community.

I was captivated by the excitement surrounding these games so I followed the scene religiously, purchasing old Evo DVDs and watching FFA vids. Around 4 yrs after this obsession, SFIV makes its debut. I picked up the game, participated in the GameStop tournament, got bodied in said tournament, got motivated to get better, and here we are today.

What do you think of the Capcom Pro Tour and how it has impacted the competitive fighting game community?

The CPT is a awesome step in the right direction IMO. I’m glad Capcom realized that we are living in the age of developer-supported tournaments. This keeps the competition alive and well by providing incentive to those that perform, therefore forcing competitors to push their level of play to new heights. This, in turn, is also great to spectators and fans who get to witness these new heights.

801 Strider (center) gets advice from his coach, iPeru (left) during his match against MCZ|Mago (right)

CEO 2015:

What did you think of the level of competition at CEO this year compared to other events you’ve been to?

This, IMO, has been the most stacked tournament in North America since Evo last year. Even getting out of pools was a struggle. You know a tournament is stacked when Daigo nor Momochi make top 16, let alone top 8. It was a bloodbath.

Your match vs MCZ|Mago was amazing. He had you down 2-0 and you managed to come back and win. You never once showed anything but complete calm. Can you tell us about your thoughts as this match progressed?

Honestly, I wasn’t nervous at all, I had a gameplan going into this match and knew that if I kept to my plan I would win. I believe I have some of the strongest footsies, so naturally I wanted to force him to play that game. I sat down and lost 2 matches quickly before I had time to follow my plan. I paused after losing the second match to figure out why it happened. My anti-air game was weak and he was getting in without much of a challenge. My focus shifted much more on this and it proved effective as he was unable to get in and start his offense.

At the end you had to play 3 matches in a row. You had to play Kazunoko in Winners Finals, then had to play EG|PR Balrog in Losers Finals, and then finally had to play Kazunoko once again in the Grand Finals. Can you shed some light on what it’s like to play 3 high pressure matches like that one after the other?

One word. Exhausting. It’s not just the number of games I had to play, but how difficult each one was and how much effort I had to exert. Most of those matches came down to the wire, where I had to give my all to inch out a win. I wasn’t mentally prepared for Kazunoko after that gauntlet, in retrospect, I should’ve taken a short break after losers finals. I’m not making an excuse, since managing mental fatigue is a huge and sometimes underplayed part of these events. Kazu played amazing from beginning to end and he deserved his win. I will be better prepared for next time though.

What’s Next and Final Thoughts:

801 Strider (right) makes a grand entrance at CEO 2015 with his friend and coach, iPeru (left).

Do you have any plans to attend more events this year? Have you given any thought to going to international events?

I do plan on attending more events, my goal is to win a Premier tournament so I will need all the practice I can get. I’m definitely planning on going overseas.
Are you going to Evolution next week?

I will definitely be there.

Are there any final thoughts you’d like to add?

Ending note, I just want people to see that you don’t need to have a huge thriving scene to make it work. Utah has a very small scene and my practice is usually playing XBL or vs iPeru. Anyone can make it, you just have to want it bad enough. ¬†Also shoutouts to my boys Renzo aka iPeru for being the best coach hands down and Andy aka @HadoukenMD for sending us to multiple events and being a great friend and overall badass.