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The King of Fighters XIII - Interview with top Singapore Player Justius(Skye) w/Tierchart

For enthusiasts that watched the KOFXIII tournament at Major League Gaming, the most epic moment for many of them was unarguably Mr.KOF's matches with "Justius" (Click here for video), an unfamiliar name to the English KOF scene. Better known by his alias Skye, little were people aware that he was actually the top KOF player in Singapore.

The following is an interview with Skye, conducted with the help of his fellow friend and hardcore Singapore player Orphen. Also included in this interview is Skye's version of KOFXIII's tier chart, complete with some brief overviews.



--- Your name is known amongst some of the hardcore players in the KOF community, but this is the first time that you were actually seen by the west. Can you give us an introduction of yourself?

Hi everyone! My name is Justius. Everyone else knows me as Skye and I am the usual punk you would find in an arcade playing against AIs by himself. =)


--- You amazed everyone (including the commentators TheAnswer and Juicebox-- they were shouting unbelievably) with your skill level of KOF. How long have you been playing the KOF series?

Since '96. Back then you'd see me mashing buttons and turning lots of 360‹ on joysticks, if you know what I mean. '98 was the year I started learning and playing seriously. I'd say 15 years.


--- What are your favourite top 3 KOF series?

KOF 2002UM, KOF XIII Console Edition and lastly KOF98UM.


--- How did you get into KOF? Were you playing another fighting game series before it?

No. I play KOF and only KOF. I love it. None of the other games could take this love for KOF away.


--- How popular is KOF in Singapore? Has things changed at all since the release of KOF13?

The scene in Singapore for KOF is fading. It is really saddening to see that more players are moving to Street Fighter, and none is trying to pick up KOF. Unfortunately, the scene remained largely the same since the arcade version of KOFXIII had a few unbalance characters and abused, many has dropped it without return. I hope they will see and feel the difference when KOFXIII Climax is released, if it ever will be in Singapore arcades.


--- It's rare to see someone playing with a pad rather than a stick. (for example, in Japan, Urasia is probably about the only top player that uses a pad). Can you tell us why?

Ah haha! Actually, I simply didn't have money for a joystick and was forced to use pads on consoles, since '98. Very much a blessing in disguise? I had more time and experience with pads rather than sticks, that being the case. Please, don't read it the wrong way.

I'd seen many players use pads while in the tournament, albeit older PS2 pads with an adapter, and they weren't bad with execution. Not many players use pads? Really?

(Note from Skye's friend Orphen: He can use both stick and pad as well. His response when I asked which hardware is he better off:- "Ah haha. If it's an arcade machine, stick. If I have to choose between pad and a stick on my lap, pad.")


--- Please show us your version of the tier chart for KOF XIII.

Click to Enlarge


--- Can you give us some short explanations on why you think the top 5 characters on your tier chart are strong, and why the bottom 5 characters are weak? (Refer to your chart)

Benimaru, Yuri, and Ex Iori obviously are top tier characters. They have command grabs, anti airs, a lot of set ups and mind games. I placed Benimaru and Yuri before Ex Iori is because they can bait uppercuts, and with that damaging hyper drive combo, successful baiting of an uppercut almost means a free win when you have full drive bar and 2 stocks or more. Plus, it's very safe to bait uppercut, especially Yuri.

Next up is Vice. I don't know why many people don't seem to use Vice much but I find her really troublesome when she has stock. A grappler with an EX non grappling move which can link into combos from almost anything? I'd say that's pretty cheap. Just one jump CD, standing A, or crouching D can kill you. And her combos are very easy to perform.

Lastly Mr Karate. He is about the only character that has a command grab that teleports to your face. Almost the same attributes as the top 3 SS tier characters. Except that baiting uppercuts isn't that safe, and his command grab cannot link into any combos.

About the weakest 5 characters, obviously I put them as the weakest because I don't use them much. Mai simply just doesn't have damaging combos without using stock or outside of activating hyper drive, and even with hyper drive without at at least 3 stocks it's pointless. Without a command grab and proper anti air, you'll need a lot of openings, which you cannot even make heavy punish most of the time.

Robert has many situations where moves are not safe on block or whiff, although many depend on proper zoning. His ex command grab has too many hits which pretty much scales any follow ups badly.

I placed Kula and Leona at the same tier because both of them don't have painful combos outside of corner. Good combos need at least need one drive cancel, which actually doesn't add much to the damage. Same for Athena but she is a tier higher because she has a command grab that can be linked into combos. These 3 may sound almost like Mai's situation, but at least their combos are much better than Mai.


--- Are you sponsored at the current moment? Are you interested in any sponsors?

No, not at the moment. Of course I'm interested! You know, getting sponsored for playing a game in Singapore is almost impossible. Companies here would probably ask you to grow up. Getting sponsored for a sport would be different, but many don't see video games as a sport. After playing so many years, it has definitely become a sport for me. (Interested sponsors can mail here for contact information)


--- Is there anyone particular around the world that you want to play against?

Yes, I would love to play against anyone who plays KOF. If you want names, I missed my chances to play against Romance and Bala in the Columbus trip. And those from Japan and China who couldn't make it to the Winter Championship, sorry I'm not particularly good at remembering names. Aw heck. People! Just start trying KOF again! You'd love it! And you'd love trashing me up!


--- You were marked as DQ (disqualified) for your first match at MLG. What happened?

Even I am mystified by this one. I was there all the time. I didn't hear my name for sure. I've asked and the only reason they gave me, was I didn't appear when my name was called. The tournament had already progressed much, and to decide to continue in the loser's bracket was the best idea at hand. You wouldn't want to cause trouble for MLG for finally picking up KOF would you? Love the game and appreciate these people for hosting tournaments!


--- During your tie-breaker match at MLG, you switched from EX Kyo to K'. What was the reason behind your switch?

Ex Kyo requires a lot of precision in distance and timing in my opinion. I simply couldn't do as well when I am nervous. K' is a character for better control in tight situations. It was a hard decision to make though.


--- Can you tell us what you've thought of MLG and the players in America?

They were really welcoming. The officials had apologized to us Singaporean players for the DQ incident. I believed they were only trying to do their jobs, as told by the company.
Not much interaction with the rest. I admit I am a really quiet and shy guy. Some guys drove us to his house for casuals after the tournament, even though we just met. You wouldn't find that happening with strangers in Singapore. Good hospitality. =)


--- What differences did you see between KOF13 played in Singapore and America?

Very much different! The play style, the match ups, the set ups, characters used. I've never seen so much in all these years in Singapore, compared to just a few days overseas. Well, partly because of the shortage of players here.


--- Are you planning on going to EVO or any other future American/overseas events?

I hope to! Not that I am that wealthy enough to be flying by myself for tournaments where whether or not you win, you lose money. Why would I want to go for a no win situation? Some situations simply discourage us from even stepping foot onto a plane.


--- Last but not least, do you want to make any shoutouts (greetings) to the online KOF Community or people you've met during this trip?

Yes! To all of you out there!

Thanks for all your support for KOF and making the tournaments a dream come true!

Thanks so much to Sony for providing the prize pot for KOF! (Sources unofficial, from word of mouth)

I haven't been online much but I believe you guys contributed a lot to KOF. (PS: I heard some guy tried to compile frame data for every character in KOF by watching sprites frame by frame. That certainly takes lots of love for the game.)

And thanks so much for the interview! I was quite surprised though! Wow, scoring an interview? Am I dreaming! Such hype makes me even more nervous haha! No I'm not lying. I really felt that I couldn't handle all that hype. If this isn't a digital text interview I would have been very silent.

Lastly, kudos to Xian and Kevin (Cameraman) for providing all fighting game players in Singapore an excellent training ground. Without them, my skills for KOF would have rusted, and eventually forgotten. Come visit us if you're in Singapore!

People! Be kind to your challengers outside of the game! I know sometimes I am also pretty screwed up but at least change for the better good. For all of KOF community!


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