This past Wednesday, VFDC community member Blitzball Champ hosted his 83rd VF Arena, a weekly online gathering that has allowed fans of the game to find opponents more than five long years after Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown hit consoles. Blitzball has hosted VF Arenas on Xbox Live as well as on Playstation Network, VF5FS as well as VF5 vanilla, and even a Virtua Fighter 2 room, truly helping the community at large stay sharp while we all wait for SEGA’s next move. To commemorate these contributions to our community, we asked Blitzball Champ to answer some questions about his history with the game and his accomplishments.
1. Why the name “Blitzball Champ?” I am a huge Final Fantasy fan. My favorite mini-game from a Final Fantasy game was blitzball from Final Fantasy X. About 40% of the hours I put into the game were all towards blitzball. I have worked in the gaming industry for 8 years total between 3 different companies, and at each of these companies, I was made fun of so much because my co-workers made it seem like I was the only person on this earth that loves blitzball. As I got more into fighting games in general, and actually started attending small tournaments in my home state of North Carolina, I wanted to go with a cool nickname like many other competitors. When I thought about a name, it made me think of what all of those co-workers of mine said and decided to go with a name with blitzball in it. Since I figured that I was the so-called “only person on earth that loves blitzball,” according to my co-workers, then I might as well be the best at it, which lead me to adding “Champ” at the end. I have been rocking “Blitzball Champ” since 2010! Most people knew me as “Swordfish2” on VFDC, but once I realized that I could get that changed, I made the necessary change. LOL!
2. This year, you surprised a lot of people by placing highly in VF4FT at No Matter The Cost, a game I at least had no idea you had played. You were even landing those frame-perfect giant swings! What’s your history with the VF series? When/how did you start? First character? Well I was always familiar with Virtua Fighter through the times I played VF1 and Fighters Megamix, but growing up, I was more into Tekken and Street Fighter because that is what all my friends at the time played when it came to fighting games, and those were the easiest to access. I first got my feet wet with VF4 in late 2002. In 2003, on release day, I dove into the deep end of the water with VF4Evo! LOL! Two good friends of mine that I have known since 2nd grade originally got me into VF4. Once VF4Evo released and I got into the Dojo mode, that was when I instantly fell in love with VF! My first character was Wolf. I messed around with everyone, but Wolf was my main because of my love of pro wrestling ever since I was a kid. Lion eventually became my secondary after completing Quest Mode with him, but really fell away from him after VF5. I played tons of VF4Evo with my two friends. Main issue was that those were literally the only friends I could play with because there really weren’t any others out there that would play VF4Evo, and it wasn’t ever in tournaments in the area. Thankfully, one or two tournaments popped up in North Carolina where VF5FS was available, but not many players would sign up for it, so I was pretty much on my own. I was actually very surprised that I did so well in the VF4FT tournament at NMTC because that was my first time ever playing VF4FT. I was really using all that I remembered from my VF4Evo days and putting that into action! I do hope to get another shot at it though!
3. Your grudge match with Bounty was also easily one of the highlights of the event. There was so much energy from the crowd. You must have picked up on that while you were playing. How does playing in front of a live audience compare to the experience of streaming sets on Twitch? I was nervous during the entire set, especially after being called out by Bounty! Once the crowd really got into it, that sent me into an overdrive of excitement to the point that I actually felt like I was at Evo! This was the perfect scenario for me to really take on the pressure of playing in front of a hype crowd, and now that I have gone through that, the nerves don’t get to me as much if any. While I will always value streaming sets on Twitch, live audience scenarios are just something really special and memorable, and I embrace them regardless of the outcome.
4. What motivated you to start streaming? Simple. BLACKSTAR and Sunday Night RAW! He did such an excellent job hosting and streaming Sunday Night RAW. He had all sorts of players on those shows and the different sets were very entertaining and hype. Seeing all of that made me feel like I could do something like that! I mean why not? I already had a YouTube channel for a couple of years, so I figured that I could give live streaming a shot.
5. What do you enjoy the most about playing VF? Do you have any personal goals in VF? Any rivals? I enjoy opportunities where I can play as many people in VF as possible, especially offline play. NMTC was the best example of that for me. I also enjoy being able to play and test myself against other players that are much better than me. As far as personal goals, I have two. One, as much as I have earned the respect of others as a person, I also want to earn the respect of others as a player. In order for me to do that, I am really going to have to take it up a notch on my play, because there is still much I need to learn in VF. Second, I want to beat Rodnutz in a FT10 set in VF4Evo or VF4FT. Mad respect for Rodnutz, but I want revenge for NMTC! LOL! For rivals, if I could name 3, they would be BBountyHuntyr, Jason Elbow AKT, and Kruza. VF Arena was the playground that originally started off the rivalry with BBounty and really became famous at NMTC. Jason Elbow and I have had tons of great matches against each other in general, so I can always expect him to bring it every time! With Kruza, we still have a tiebreaker set to do from our rivalry dating back to Sunday Night RAW.
6. What are your thoughts on the current state of the VF community? Well, I understand it may not be as huge as other fighting game communities, but I am confident that VF community is very dedicated and always will be, no matter how big or small. I believe the community is small but strong because of what and how everyone active in the community has contributed. The people in this community are consistently looking for matches, whether offline or online. It has been an honor being a part of this community, and I hope that more players will come along the way and join up!
7. Are you involved in any other gaming scenes? If so, how do they compare to this one? The Carolina Games Summit and The Fall Classic are two tournaments/gatherings that I have attended the most in North Carolina. Those two have mainly been the events where I play mostly Ultra Street Fighter IV, Street Fighter V, and Dead Or Alive 5: Last Round. These are the main offline gatherings that I attend and find most of my friends from out of my area attending as well. I wish I had more easy access to offline VF gatherings in NC, so that is probably the only real disadvantage of being in the VF scene compared to the others. I am also one of the co-hosts of “Geek Out With Games Out,” a streaming/broadcast show that myself and 3 other friends/former co-workers of mine had started together. We are still new, but we have been getting into a flow of streaming different gaming series and providing commentary as well. This is mainly something that I decided to do aside from my time contributing to the VF community via VF Arena.
8. What are your hopes for the future of VF? There are a few things I would love to see happen. First of course would be a VF6. Gotta keep the hope alive for that! Second, I would love to see more offline VF events happen that would be equivalent to events like Sega Cup, or NMTC, or bigger. I would go to one of these before I would go to an Evo! Third, being that North Carolina isn’t too much of a scene for VF, I would love to do something similar to what Chief_Flash did and host a VF gathering/tournament in NC and have as many people come out as possible. Would take some serious planning, but it would be a dream come true for me! I have a little bit of experience hosting and sponsoring a tournament, so this would be a great challenge for me! Lastly, I want to continue to be a positive impact and influence in the VF community. Whenever the day comes that I leave this earth, I want as many people to be able to remember me as a blessing to all that knew me or knew of me.