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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 Mr_Creeper

Is this eSports?

Posted by Lukeweizer

@wemibelec90 said:

@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.

I saw someone using one of those at PAX Prime last year! It completely boggled my mind. Is it considered better than a Stick? Or just some different?

Posted by White

Did he found One Piece yet?

Posted by Klarion18

Didn't expect this to be on the site! Thanks Patrick!

Posted by StarvingGamer

@starvinggamer said:

@wemibelec90 said:

@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.

I saw someone using one of those at PAX Prime last year! It completely boggled my mind. Is it considered better than a Stick? Or just some different?

I think that it has the potential to be better. It seems like it would give you the highest degree of accuracy when executing frame-perfect controller inputs, but I've never actually used one. I really want one though so I can see how long it would take to learn to do a standing 720.

Posted by steveurkel

Awesome! I watched EVO live to see killer instinct and it had me cheering and shouting like I was watching some MMA. I fucking LOVE killer instinct and almost want to buy an xbox (almost!) just to play it.

I wish they would put Killer Instinct on the computer. I tried to enjoy SF I really did but I just don't like the visual style (I had a super nintendo and street fighter 2 back in 1992 and have played virtually every SF game).

Posted by TournamentOfHate

There was so many tears at EVO this year, I think I counted at least 8 people on stage on finals day that had tears rolling down their cheeks.

Thanks for doing this interview Patrick, would love to see you do more stuff about the fighting game community/Smash Bros. scene.

Somebody mentioned it but yeah, Maxwell McGee was at EVO this year, he loves fighting games and was pretty much solely responsible for content of that kind appearing on Gamespot the past few years.

Posted by Aronleon

This was a great read thanks @patrickklepek hope to see more of this in the future.

Edited by thecrowes

@starvinggamer: Thanks for clearing that up for me, as someone who just watched from the side lines without knowing much of the intricacies, it helped.

Posted by AMyggen

@logan3 said:

@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.

Justin Wong is the man.

Great interview, Patrick!

Posted by Jesus_Phish

" 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."

It's kind of sad reading that. I'm glad his friends and the community could congratulate his achievement but it sounds like his family have such a poor attitude towards his achievement.

Watching all of EVO has made me really want to pick up fighting games, so I've been trying my hand at a few. Hoping for s SSIV release on the PS4 and if not whatever SF comes next.

Posted by paulunga

Yeah, neither of the two surprising things is all that surprising. When you're playing at that level you rarely make input errors regardless of controller choice. And many players pick characters because they like their design/personality/backstory instead of their tier list position.

Posted by kblosnack

but... Whens Mahvel?

Posted by churrific

"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.

Lol truer words have never been spoken.

Posted by Amafi

@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.

Oh, sure. None of those people will ever get top 8 at evo though. The top players generally have some weird reason for their attachment to characters other than what's flavor of the month.

Edited by Amafi

" 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."

It's kind of sad reading that. I'm glad his friends and the community could congratulate his achievement but it sounds like his family have such a poor attitude towards his achievement.

Watching all of EVO has made me really want to pick up fighting games, so I've been trying my hand at a few. Hoping for s SSIV release on the PS4 and if not whatever SF comes next.

I do that every single EVO. This time it's Skull Girls. Trying to pick up some of that Big Band tech. In 5 months I'll realize I'll never be good enough to actually have fun online and stop again. Rinse and repeat next summer.

Posted by ZZoMBiE13

@amafi said:

@jesus_phish said:

" 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."

It's kind of sad reading that. I'm glad his friends and the community could congratulate his achievement but it sounds like his family have such a poor attitude towards his achievement.

Watching all of EVO has made me really want to pick up fighting games, so I've been trying my hand at a few. Hoping for s SSIV release on the PS4 and if not whatever SF comes next.

I do that every single EVO. This time it's Skull Girls. Trying to pick up some of that Big Band tech. In 5 months I'll realize I'll never be good enough to actually have fun online and stop again. Rinse and repeat next summer.

Watching EVO just makes me long for my younger days when I could take on anyone at my local arcades. I was never THE BEST or anything, but I had a lot of fun and won far more than I lost.

Now my achy old hands just can't keep up and my reaction times are so slow compared to younger kids who play I really don't stand a chance in any serious competition or even just online in random matchups. But EVO always makes me nostalgic.

Most of the time I go to great lengths to look forward rather than backwards. But I really miss playing fighting games well. Also; Get off my lawn you darn kids.

Posted by Tesla

Nice interview! EVO is the best, even for someone like me who rarely plays fighting games. Luffy's list of dudes he brought down in order to win the title is truly impressive.

Posted by kerse

This is cool, loved evo this year and can't wait for next year.

Edited by TheManWithNoPlan

I remember watching a little bit of Evo earlier in the year on the site. Thought it was pretty cool.

This was my visual approximation of Luffy after winning the Grand finals.

Posted by King9999

Thanks for the interview Patrick! I'm happy that Giant Bomb covers FGC stuff, especially now that Max McGee is no longer at GameSpot, and I don't think they're going to have any more fighting game features.

Posted by decko5

Thanks for covering fighting games, Patrick!

Posted by TeaBaggins

For those that are new to the FGC and also find yourself entertained by the drama of Sports Entertainment please stop by reddit.com/r/kappa. It's what we like to refer to as WWE-sports. There are some pro players and commentators that post regularly (Xian, Mike "the 4th Ross, Gootecks, UltraDavid etc...). The humor there can be dark and somewhat negative sounding at first glance so I recommend lurking for a few weeks before posting anything so you understand the flow of things. They have a bad rep in small circles of the FGC because of their relentless badgering of "scumbag" players and managers, but Kappa donated around $3k to send three people to EVO this year (Alex Myserssss, Tamba Bison, & Fullschedule) who they feel represent their values of calling people out on their BS, and trying to be a decent human being in real life.

Be warned if you are homophobic you're not going to have a good time as Kappa has a deep love for it's Trans members...deep. Also there is typically a daily fetish post related to feet, anime, thick, and or asian. Not sure how that became a thing but yeah.

Also Noel Brown beats women and the handicapped, stay away from him.

Edited by Amafi

@teabaggins: r/kappa are just the opposite face of the same scumbag coin.

Anyone half decent would do well to stay away from that cesspool.