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A Conversation With EVO's SF4 Grand Finals Winner, MD|Luffy

The player who achieved victory with a PlayStation 1 controller talks about family expectations, mental preparation, and more.

The final matchup at the EVO Championship Series this year was won by a guy holding a PlayStation 1 controller. The winner was Olivier Hay, more commonly known by his nickname on the circuit, Luffy.

This year marked Ultra Street Fighter IV's first appearance at EVO, and Hay made it a memorable debut. Hailing from France, everything about Hay's win seems a bit unorthodox, from his controller preference to the primary reason he picked the character he sticks with, Rose: she looked good.

You have to lose twice to be truly defeated at EVO, as the tournament's final match is derived from a victor in both a winners and losers bracket. Hay found himself in the losers bracket, which meant he was always one loss away from saying goodbye to EVO until next year. But Hay and Rose stuck it out, and he found himself facing off against Takahashi "Bonchan" Masato, who knocked out many tournament favorites, and Sagat.

To win, though, Hay would have to defeat Masato twice. Once isn't enough, since it simply resets the bracket, as Masato came from the winners circle. But Hay manages to pull it off, ultimately leading to Masato's defeat.

Maybe next year, Masato.

With a little bit of time and distance from his win at EVO, I touched base with Hay to learn a little bit more about his climb to the spotlight, and figure out what's up with that PlayStation controller. Our conversation took place over email, and features some light editing on my part, as English is not Hay's primary language.

Giant Bomb: Does it feel any different to be an EVO champion? Are your friends and family treating you any differently?

Olivier Hay: It doesn't feel any different, I'm still eating Asian food and betting on horse races. But, I agree, it's funny when people recognize me outside, and want a picture. My family doesn't treat me differently, as games aren't really a successful thing to them. It's not like I've graduated with a PhD. As for my friends, which are for the most part gamers, they are very proud, but it didn't change anything in their behavior toward me.

Giant Bomb: Do you think the money (and interviews like this) might convince your family it's legitimate?

Hay: Well, I hope so! My family is of an older generation. They only care about getting stable work, and getting a daily life. Games are always a waste of time to them.

Giant Bomb: Who is the first person you talked to after winning? Did you call someone?

Hay: The first person I talked to was my friend Evans. After he saw the K.O screen, he jumped on the scene, and lifted me up. He was way more happy than me! Then, he told me "you won EVO!!!” I said, “Yeah, I won.” The first person I called was my girlfriend, to tell her that I won, and I would bring back some money home.

Giant Bomb: Do you remember why you got into fighting games in the first place? How did Street Fighter become your game of choice?

Hay: I got into fighting games randomly. I started with SFIV. Back then, I wanted to buy a next-gen console, so I got the PS3. Street Fighter was the only game I knew in the shop. That’s how I got into fighting games, and how I chose Street Fighter.

Giant Bomb: Where did the nickname MD|Luffy come from?

Hay: It comes from the manga One Piece. Sometimes, my nickname get spelled Louffy. It's because Luffy is taken when I want to register most of the time.

Giant Bomb: Is there a different mentality when you're fighting through the loser bracket?

Hay: Yes, totally. When you are in loser, you know that each encounter can be your last one at EVO. The next match would be next year--if you lose. I was trying to play my best game, despite being under intense pressure. It's really a game of nerves when it comes down to that.

Giant Bomb: As you move from round-to-round, is there a mental fatigue? Do you start to experience any kind of exhaustion?

Hay: Hmm, I would say yes, if you aren't well-prepared for high-pressure matches, and if you didn't get a chance to rest well the night before. But in my situation, I was pretty good. I got plenty of rest, as you have one day off from tournament. I'm used to playing in tournaments, and I have good control over my stress.

"My family is of an older generation. They only care about getting stable work, and getting a daily life. Games are always a waste of time to them."

Giant Bomb: Picking Rose as your character was considered a surprising choice. What's strategically appealing about Rose?

Hay: When I picked up SF, I didn't know that there were characters stronger than one another, or that characters had different styles--defensive, offensive. So I chose my character only based on the design. I liked Rose’s one, and she's sexy!

Giant Bomb: Many of the headlines about your win at EVO have centered around your use of a PS1 controller. Can you explain why that's your controller of choice?

Hay: I began playing on PS3, so I used the PS3 pads. After some months, I went to Xbox because the online was better. At that time, an adapter which handled PS3 pads didn’t exist, so I had to use a PS1 controller that I found in an old box. It was the controller I got when I bought the PlayStation with Final Fantasy VII back then. Its really old now. Furthermore, I really like the PS1 controller, as it's light, solid, the d-pad is more accurate, and it's easy to carry.

Giant Bomb: Do you have any rituals right before a match? Any superstitions you need to address before sitting down to play?

Hay: I do. I crack my bones in a particular way: always the right hand before the left one. Then, I finish with both thumbs simultaneously. Then, I crack my neck right to left. Then, I join up my hands up at the wrist (like praying). And, finally, I kiss my pendant.

Giant Bomb: How long do you think you'll continue to keep playing fighting games competitively?

Hay: I don’t know. I love video games, and I love fighting games. I don't think even aging can’t make me hate them, can it?

Giant Bomb: If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking of getting into competitive play, what would it be?

Hay: The most important part is to find a group of players with whom you can train and improve together. Training alone is the slowest way to improve, in my opinion. Also, go into competitions with some friends, so you don't feel alone there. It's important for your mental stability. Then, hope to lose. The first part of learning is happens by losing, to understand what your flaws are, so you have a base to work on!

(Photo Credit: Robert Paul)

Patrick Klepek on Google+
76 Comments
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Posted by csl316

Seeing that live in the GB chat was amazing.

Posted by scrappypixels

This was a really interesting interview! I was hoping that there would be some after coverage on evo.

Posted by Ouren

LET'S GO

Edited by officer_falcon

It was certainly fun to watch him work through the bracket. He was knocked down to losers by last year's champion, Xian. Working his way through the bracket had him matched against significant opponents the whole way. He definitely deserved the win for all the work he had to do.

Posted by ashkev

Good interview. Would like to see another with Justin Wong!

Posted by HammondofTexas

@ouren said:

LET'S GO

Hahah! I said that in Dave Lang's voice in my head!

Edited by Chumley_Marchbanks

As a European and a Rose player, it was really great to see Luffy win the USF4 tournament. Although he has been a successful player for a while now, I think most people (including myself) believed that he was probably one of the least likely competitors in the top eight to win the title. So to see him blaze a trail through so many experienced players was such a joy to watch, and I can only hope that next years top eight is just as exciting.

Posted by Gyrfal

So he uses a PS1 controller because it's the thing that he had lying around that would work? GATLIKE

Posted by DystopiaX
@ashkev said:

Good interview. Would like to see another with Justin Wong!

A Justin Wong interview would be really interesting, since he has a really long and storied fighting game career to discuss as well. I think that interview especially would require a lot more research from Patrick, since you'd probably want to talk to him about MVC2/3 as well as SF and stuff too, but I'd definitely want to see more FGC/esport coverage on the site as well. Obviously not a ton, since that isn't really the focus of the site, but stuff like this is interesting. (I know cbsi technically owns ongamers but I like the more casual angle Patrick/GB would be able to take with some of that stuff)

Edited by doomocrat

@ashkev said:

Good interview. Would like to see another with Justin Wong!

A Justin Wong interview would be really interesting, since he has a really long and storied fighting game career to discuss as well. I think that interview especially would require a lot more research from Patrick, since you'd probably want to talk to him about MVC2/3 as well as SF and stuff too, but I'd definitely want to see more FGC/esport coverage on the site as well. Obviously not a ton, since that isn't really the focus of the site, but stuff like this is interesting. (I know cbsi technically owns ongamers but I like the more casual angle Patrick/GB would be able to take with some of that stuff)

I don't think OnGamers goes deep enough on their FGC stuff either. Who really does a good job with it is Maxwell McG.... fuck.

Posted by mrfluke

he won the biggest fighting game tournament in the world, and he's so humble about it. i love it, thats awesome.

Edited by forteexe21

So amazing to watch this live in GB chat and everyone losing their minds when he won. Great interview, definitely looking forward for more!

Posted by thecrowes

Great interview Patrick!

It's really interesting how this guy pretty much won without any tricks or deep strategic planning, everything about him was just pure preference. He's simply got the natural talent to beat the crap out of everyone else with his reflexes and skill.

Posted by Ett

In a interview a last year he answered the why Rose question differently.

Louffy: I've been playing Rose since I started playing the game. I chose Rose right away because of the size of her breasts and her costume colors, pink and blue are my favorite.

Posted by Askherserenity

Great interview! Glad you did this, Patrick.

Also, fuck yeah, One Piece.

Edited by ThePhantomnaut

@doomocrat said:

@dystopiax said:
@ashkev said:

Good interview. Would like to see another with Justin Wong!

A Justin Wong interview would be really interesting, since he has a really long and storied fighting game career to discuss as well. I think that interview especially would require a lot more research from Patrick, since you'd probably want to talk to him about MVC2/3 as well as SF and stuff too, but I'd definitely want to see more FGC/esport coverage on the site as well. Obviously not a ton, since that isn't really the focus of the site, but stuff like this is interesting. (I know cbsi technically owns ongamers but I like the more casual angle Patrick/GB would be able to take with some of that stuff)

I don't think OnGamers goes deep enough on their FGC stuff either. Who really does a good job with it is Maxwell McG.... fuck.

Maxwell is RIP. :( Also OnGamers had some recent controversy in relation to Reddit which negatively affected the site.

Great job Patrick!

I was at EVO wednesday night checking out any casual sessions. Ended up with the Chileian players. Luffy was over there and was destroying everyone including other high level visiting players like Ryan Hart, Laugh and more. He was simply dominating. I only saw one loss from Luffy and it was a very clutch situation. I somewhat sensed that he was really prepared and to give it his all. And with Rose better in this version of SFIV, I bet it really rose (hah) his confidence. I had a hunch after that night that he was gonna do amazing.

While I am not from France, I am glad he won. He really deserved it, especially after cheering for him in the front stage.

Posted by Biddy

That was an awesome match and this is a great interview Patrick.

Posted by Lukeweizer

I really don't understand everyone shitting their pants over the PS1 controller. A controller is a controller, they all serve the same purpose. If he prefers to play on a pad, why wouldn't he use a superior pad to the 360's (the system EVO uses to play USF4)?

Posted by wumbo3000

Oh man, the story behind on why he uses a PS1 controller is pretty great. And it's awesome to hear that an 09'er won EVO. As an 09'er myself, that gives me hope!

Posted by emtee

@lukeweizer: Because the majority of people who play fighting games competitively use a joystick.

Posted by SmiteOfHand

@scrappypixels: Same. Always enjoy when the staff interacts with people who excel at games and wish they would use their resources and contacts more in this way.

Edited by Seroth

As a former pad player, I also don't understand why using a PS1 controller is a big deal. I only switched to stick because I liked the idea of customizing one with my own art!

If you play on pad, you're probably using a PS1 or PS2 controller, since DualShock 3s are banned at most tournaments. Plus, pretty much every system out here has some kind of controller converter that supports PS1/PS2 controllers.

Anyways, thanks to this article, I finally know what's up with the Luffy/Louffy thing. Good job, Patrick, :)

Posted by ZedsDeadBaby

Patrick killing it with the content lately. Awesome stuff.

Posted by hmoney001

@csl316 said:

Seeing that live in the GB chat was amazing.

This made the experience a million times better.

Posted by Itwastuesday

this is a nice interview! it would be cool to get interviews from the winners of other games as well

Posted by ThePhantomnaut

this is a nice interview! it would be cool to get interviews from the winners of other games as well

While there is no official translation, there is an interview with JDCR for Tekken by fellow Korean player Help Me.

Interesting note, JDCR came in last minute and didn't register before the deadline. I guessed that a player in my pool sacrificed his spot to let JDCR in and the EVO folks let it ride. Everyone, including Aris, got nervous lol. Not sure if completely true but from my viewpoint, it was sorta sketchy to a certain degree.

Posted by lordofultima

Great interview Patrick!

It's really interesting how this guy pretty much won without any tricks or deep strategic planning, everything about him was just pure preference. He's simply got the natural talent to beat the crap out of everyone else with his reflexes and skill.

I saw a lot of strategy in his top 8 run, so I'm not sure about your point. Street Fighter is not just relying on a natural talent and reflexes. In fact, most reflex is anticipating and not actual reflex.

Posted by MikeLemmer

@seroth: Why are DualShock 3 controllers banned at tournaments?

Edited by Lukeweizer

@emtee: Yes, a majority. But there are plenty who do use pads, typically for grapplers. He's just a player who uses a pad. I would have the same reaction everyone else seems to be having if he had used a 360 pad, cause that thing's a piece of shit.

Posted by wemibelec90

@lukeweizer: Two things, really. First, competitive players who do this well on a pad are quite rare. After seeing so many pros that use sticks, and a community that always says "You really need a stick to do well," it's impressive to see someone have such good execution on a pad. Second, and this may just be me, not many people are probably aware you can even use a PS1 controller on a modern console. During the finals, when everything was tense and exciting, seeing something crazy like a nearly 20 year old controller can be pretty mind-blowing.

Posted by Doctorchimp

The first non-Asian Evo winner in street fighter IV!!

Edited by ThePhantomnaut

@mikelemmer said:

@seroth: Why are DualShock 3 controllers banned at tournaments?

Wireless controllers have been a controversy in EVO. Most are banned unless stated. There have been cases when players press the Home button during matches, at a time where the PS3 was the console of choice for the event. Unlike the 360, the PS3 doesn't have an physical indicator on what controllers are actively connected.

Here was the original video that enacted this rule...

Gandido used a DS3 in the match but iirc, it wasn't him that pressed the PS button but rather someone else who was connected to it. Accident or deliberate, it's still a mystery but for sure that shit was heartbreaking for Gandido.

Edited by migrations

@lukeweizer: Yeah man, when I go to my local meetups. Probably 1 out of 15 or 20 people use pads. Most people by far use fairly expensive arcade sticks. . Look at Street Fighter or King Of Fighters or Tekken or Virtua Fighter or Blazblue. In their original incarnations these games were in Japanese arcades, so they were actually made to be played with arcade stick setups. Now there are games like Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Injustice: Gods Among Us that actually have only come out on consoles. But because of the legacy of Japanese arcades many of us still use arcade sticks for these games.

So the fact that some dude ended up schooling all the worlds best players using a PS1 pad is a little crazy. I have known about Luffy for a long time now and heard about him using a pad a long time ago when Daigo played him in Europe and counterpicked him by playing Cammy I think it was. I never would have predicted Luffy to win EVO this year.

NOW, there is one major fighting game that uses pads only, and that's Super Smash Brothers. The Super Smash Brothers community has also historically been a little bit separate from the main fighting game community. But this is changing.

Posted by Thiago123

The first non-Asian Evo winner in street fighter IV!!

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Shout outs to James Chen

Posted by Thiago123

"The first person I called was my girlfriend, to tell her that I won, and I would bring back some money home."

The struggle is real.

Posted by Lukeweizer

@migrations: Whenever I see someone use a pad, I don't see it till after the match is over, and I never realized they were using a pad. They were playing that well. I've always been of the mind that a good pad player can do anything a stick player can. And they've proved it as well. I can see why a pad player winning a major tournament like this would be a big deal, but I just feel like they had it in them all along. It was just a numbers game of stick players outnumbering pad players.

Posted by Lukeweizer

@lukeweizer: Two things, really. First, competitive players who do this well on a pad are quite rare. After seeing so many pros that use sticks, and a community that always says "You really need a stick to do well," it's impressive to see someone have such good execution on a pad. Second, and this may just be me, not many people are probably aware you can even use a PS1 controller on a modern console. During the finals, when everything was tense and exciting, seeing something crazy like a nearly 20 year old controller can be pretty mind-blowing.

I've never believed that whole "stick to do well" thing. I've seen matches in MvC3 and SF4 where both players play equally well, then it turns out one of them used a pad. With enough practice, pad players can play just as well as sticks players. They'll probably get carpel-tunnel before the stick players, but they can play.

I actually use a PS1 controller for Injustice on 360. So, when I saw Luffy using it, I was like "Fuck yeah. That's a damn good pad."

Edited by StarvingGamer

Hypest shit. I've been a Rose main since she was announced for the console version of SFIV. Good to see a character with GDLK footsies win with clean fundamentals now that the engine has been tuned away from vortex and set-plays. Still think the Viper buffs are a bunch of bullshit. Once all the Viper players learn how to play real footsies it's going to be a bloodbath.

@thecrowes said:

It's really interesting how this guy pretty much won without any tricks or deep strategic planning, everything about him was just pure preference. He's simply got the natural talent to beat the crap out of everyone else with his reflexes and skill.

I assume you're talking about counter-picking characters and things like that? The only time SFIV was won by a player like that was 2012. Every other year since '09 it's been won by a character specialist. Actually, the entire top-4 at Evo this year was comprised of character specialists, and Rose has a pretty good matchup against each of them. The only player in top-8 with a significant amount of top-level Rose experience was Snake Eyez. There weren't really any tricks that would help him and no strategy was necessary outside of playing his character right based off of his years of practice and experience.

Posted by Hassun

Great to see some added exposure for this guy and fighting games in general. He has an amazing run at Evo2k14.

Edited by Amafi

Someone picking a character based on look really isn't rare at all. Not sure why anyone would assume it was.

Posted by wemibelec90

@lukeweizer: I've never believed that sticks are inherently better either; that's just what the community tends to say as a whole (although probably less so now).

Edited by FLStyle

Good interview! Glad to see more staff acknowledgement from the editorial side of things @patrickklepek!

Thanks to @mrpibb for opening the chat for us as always and to @rorie and all the mods who popped in, watched some matches and kept an eye on everything! EVO 2014 was a great success!

Posted by RioStarwind

Watching all of the finals with the GB chat on the side was a great experience this year. I'm not sure if it was the chat or what but once I saw Luffy fighting his way to the top I was rooting for him. It's good to see a article like this on GB.

Posted by Gaff

@amafi: Don't underestimate how many people pick characters on the basis of tier lists or the latest tournament results. Back in Vanilla SF4 there were an insane amount of Sagats online and each iteration had their own "OP" character.

Posted by Cat_Herder

Next I want to see an interview with the guy who came in 2nd in the Blazblue tournament.

Posted by logan3

@patrickklepek

Thank-you Patrick.

Could you also do an interview with the winner of this year's Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 winner, Justin Wong? Maybe asking him what how he feels his victory might have affected the state of UMvC3, esp. with many rumors and comments that it was dead or had been dying since Disney's removal of the game from market. I'd also be interested in hearing how he feels about being re-crowned the champion of MvC again, and why he had difficulty re-attaining that status for so many years after the release of UMvC3?

Thank-you again.

Posted by Y2Ken

Great interview, Patrick. Was really fun seeing Luffy, with his old-school controller and fairly random way of getting into the game and picking his main character, battle through losers' bracket and come back to take it in the final. So cool to hear what he has to say about the whole thing.

I just love hearing how he got to this point - picking the game just because he happened to know it, choosing a character purely on the one which he liked the look and style of (rather than taking into account on tier lists or nailing down a character based on certain strengths), and selecting his controller based on what he liked from the options available to him at the time.

Would definitely love to see something like this with Justin Wong (or any of the other winners). I feel like he'd be able to offer a lot of interesting opinions with his long and storied history in the scene. I loved his "I SAVED MARVEL" tweet just after he won.

Posted by thegoldencat7

Great interview and really good to see FGC coverage on GB. Good job Patrick!

Posted by StarvingGamer

@gaff said:

@amafi: Don't underestimate how many people pick characters on the basis of tier lists or the latest tournament results. Back in Vanilla SF4 there were an insane amount of Sagats online and each iteration had their own "OP" character.

Yeah, you shoulda seen the army or Roses that appeared online immediately following Luffy's victory.

Posted by StarvingGamer

@lukeweizer: I've never believed that sticks are inherently better either; that's just what the community tends to say as a whole (although probably less so now).

Well, speaking in terms of pure kinesiology, doing motions on a dpad relies entirely on your thumb whereas joystick movements can incorporate your fingers, wrist, elbow, shoulders, and even back and waist. It's a minute difference though, and in all honesty we really should be playing on Hitboxes anyways.

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