Galaxy 4 Gamers (G4G) started its push for competitive gaming for online console gamers back in 2008 but, recently, it has added on a new cast of players for gamers to clash with. Adding in a star-studded cast of pros, the site is asking gamers who think they can tackle the top tier of games such as Street Fighter IV and Guitar Hero to partake in “Beat the Pro” challenges. The premise is simple: A pot is established as the pro begins his or her gameplay and each time a pro defeats a gamer, more cash is added to the pot. Obviously, if a gamer finally succeeds in toppling a pro, they win the competitive jackpot. Unfortunately, this won’t be a walk in the park as G4G has enlisted some pretty heavy guns to fend off gamers eager to grab the cash.
Recently, Diehard GameFAN was able to get some insight from four the site’s established pros – Ciji “StarSlay3r” Thornton, Robert “Prod1gy X” Paz, Justin Wong (“JWong”) and Alex Valle.
StarSlay3r is most known for her expertise in Guitar Hero and a competitive drive that saw her participating in the inaugural seasons of World Cyber Games’ Ultimate Gamer and The Tester, but she still has plenty of time to wreck faces in a number of popular fighting games such as Street Fighter IV as well. Prod1gy X actually won runner-up honors in the aforementioned WCG Ultimate Gamer show and while he is also a pro at Guitar Hero and DJ Hero, he also likes to partake in first-person shooting competitions including Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty. Justin Wong can be considered the number one Street Fighter IV player in the U.S., taking top honors at GameStop’s launch tournament of the game and second place in 2009’s EVO 2K tournament, but he also dominates in titles such as Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike (finishing first in the 2v2 tournament at EVO this year) and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Alex Valle is also one of the more famous fighting game competitors in major tournaments, receiving very respectable top eight finishes in the Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and SFIII:3rd Strike 2v2 tournament at EVO this year and formerly holding honors such as the U.S. champion in Street Fighter Alpha 3.
These four pros took the time out of their schedule to describe how they got into gaming, how they prepared for competitive gaming and more:
DHGF: What initially drew you toward the game which you are now a certified pro at?
StarSlay3r: I initially was drawn toward Guitar Hero due to the fact that I had previously been playing a similar rhythm game called Guitar Freaks since 1999. The first time I played Guitar Hero was at a GameStop and I five-starred one of the hardest songs my first try so I knew this was a game I wanted to invest some time into perfecting.
Prod1gy X: I have been playing Guitar Hero since the day it came out. It’s a great competitive game and really fun to watch. I use to be in a band so when I picked this game up, it was pretty easy to play and I was into expert in no time. At this point, DJ Hero is my number one game of all. Hitting top 10 in all of the DJ Hero setlists made me realize I am a top player and I can take this to a pro level.
JWong: I have been playing fighting games since I was 12. I chose fighting games because I love the idea of playing against a human opponent and the best type of competitive games to do that is a fighting game such as Street Fighter, Tekken or any related games that goes under fighting games.
Alex Valle: The popularity of the Street Fighter series has always driven me to compete. With the release of Street Fighter IV, it was only natural for me to display my years of tournament experience to the competitive scene.
DHGF: What made you decide you wanted to become a professional at the title?
StarSlay3r: I competed in a series of video game tournaments known as the Midnight Gaming Championship in Dallas, Tx., in 2006, and during this time, I was competing against some of the best players in the nation, which was an inspiration to do better. After getting to top 16 for Texas state finals I knew that if I tried harder and dedicated more time into learning the game more in depth, I could step my game up to the next level. After making it to National top 10 finals at CPL in Texas for Guitar Hero II and being beat by a top-three nationally-ranked player was when I really started to kick my training into overdrive and compete for the professional gamer title.
Prod1gy X: I have to have the love for the game. If I play a game for hours just for training and I do not want to play anymore … that tells me I am really not into it. I like to pick each game from different genres so that I can maintain that high expertise and continue on to any other FPS or music games.
JWong: Well, I never chose this road. One day it just happened. I went to tournaments just because it was really fun playing new competition and meeting new people and then eventually I realized I did it every single weekend and said to myself, “Might as well try to become professional.”
Alex Valle: Street Fighter has been my strongest competitive video game ever since the ’90s and it’s about time companies like G4G are taking notice of the talented players. It was only a matter of time before our scene gets noticed and I felt inclined to prove myself on the mainstream as a true professional cyber athlete.
DHGF: What is your training like for your title?
StarSlay3r: Training for Guitar Hero used to be 50-60 hour weeks, which consisted of about three or so hours a week of watching YouTube videos to determine the best star paths and techniques for solos, reading star paths on scorehero.com, practising solos in practice mode, repeatedly playing songs over and over until I full-comboed the song and online versus mode against every opponent that would accept the challenge. Since I had this type of training for two years, I now only have to play about five hours a week or so to maintain my skills.
Prod1gy X: There are different methods of training in games. Some games have training modes that work great for your advantage to get better and so I highly suggest you take that advantage and get better. Practice makes perfect. You cannot give up if it’s too hard because eventually you will get it. For DJ Hero, I would play each song over and over until I get it. It’s as simple as that.
JWong: I use to play everyday for at least six hrs just practising and honing my skills. Now I don’t really practice (even though I should). I am older now and I am usually behind a computer answering e-mails, doing Street Fighter IV lessons, doing the Beat a Pro by G4G or talking to potential business partners.
Alex Valle: Great question. Street Fighter is a game of reaction time, physical execution and strategy. You need to master all of these elements in order to compete with the next player or you won’t stand a chance. In my youth, I used to spend eight to 12 hours daily to develop a unique, aggressive style. Bringing new and exciting elements are needed to win national tournaments. Today, I use my talents to train others worldwide, which is also a good form of training for me.
DHGF: What is your overall opinion on competitive/professional gaming?
StarSlay3r: Competitive and professional gaming is not as easy as it may seem. You must be extremely dedicated and determined to succeed in order to be successful in the field, but I love the challenge. I am happy to see that G4G enables players from all over to come and compete against the top players in this fashion because this is the best way to level up your game and take it to the professional level.
Prod1gy X: Its a very hard industry to get by in and the reason why I say that is because not many people are driven to take on the role of leadership and dedication. You need to understand the value of who you are and what you can make of it in this industry. The best advice on this … “Never give up.”
JWong: I feel that it isn’t there yet, but, eventually, it will be and I hope to be a part of that era.
Alex Valle: I believe competitive gaming is the next sports generation. There are millions of gamers out there that have exceptional skill that not many people in the world can achieve. The main difference from real sports and video games is that you can compete at any age with minimal physical requirements.
DHGF: Is there any advice you would give to anyone looking to play a game competitively?
StarSlay3r: Ensure that you have a lot of spare time on your hands before deciding to tackle a game on the competitive level because being a top player means spending many hours practising and perfecting your skills. Make sure to hunt out players that are better than you and practice with them because playing against the best will help you since you will not only see how your skills compare to a top player’s, but often times, they will give you tips/tricks/advice on your gameplay and can let you know where you went wrong and what you were doing right. Stay dedicated! Pro/competitive gaming is a lot of hard work, but it definitely pays off when you’re taking that top three ranking check to the bank.
Prod1gy X: Practice, practice, practice. Take that risk and travel to these events and get yourself noticed. All you need is the passion for gaming and dedication.
JWong: Practice makes perfect, network to get some sparring partners and travel to events and participate in online events to gain that experience you need.
Alex Valle: If you feel you deserve recognition for being the best athlete in the world, let your game do the talking!
Now that you know a little bit more about some of G4G’s pros, if you think you have what it takes to beat them, you can head over to G4G’s official page for rules and details.
D.J. Tatsujin has been writing about video games on a rigorous schedule since 2005. He is able to so through extensive training of his first dorsal interosseous and diet consisting of nothing but pineapple. D.J. is most interested in the rhythm and fighting game genres, so when a game is announced that involves both, he camps outside of Best Buy 72 hours prior to the launch of the game. This usually ends with the police telling him to go home.