As we draw closer and closer to BAM9, the Dark Sided players are still working hard to prepare for one of the biggest events on the Australian fighting game calendar. This time we're taking a moment to catch up with Xavier 'Somniac' Nardella.
Steve: Hey Som, what have you been up to? How are your preparations for Battle Arena Melbourne 9 going?
Somniac: Why hello there, lately I have been focusing a lot of my time in to fighting games as Battle Arena Melbourne is around the corner. Playing Street Fighter V and KOFXIV on a nightly basis with some Ultra Street Fighter 4 on the side every now and then.
Steve: Ultra SF4?! Hahaha no way, I saw some of the guys playing it at the last CouchWarriors ranbat. Tell me about what happened at the Street Fighter V CouchWarriors April Ranbat, I saw you win a really close set versus Reepuplzorg and then take a tough loss in the Grand Final versus Zed. Some changes to be made there to deal with Zed's Necalli or maybe just trying something new in terms of strategy?
Somniac: I wasn't really happy with my performance in general [at the ranbat] and wasn't able to adapt very quickly to the strategies of my opponents, I had a similar experience online against some other opponents too. I've had a think about it and in general I was being too rigid with my gameplan. Often I would be dominating a round but be unable to close it out and put myself at risk trying to do so, losing quite frequently in really strong positions. As Street Fighter V does not have chip damage, my opponents can choose to take their time to make a comeback even on zero life. I've made a conscious decision to save critical art meter for super more often to prevent this tactic in the future. As super will close the round out if they activate V-Trigger and there's not much they can do about it I think it's a more solid play going forward.
Steve: That sounds like good plan, it sounds like it will also allow you to be in a good spot to change your mind should you want to just EX Devil's Reverse or commit to another strategy. Speaking of strategy and self reflection/improvement, I know you're quite the lab monster, spending lots of time practicing in front of that ViewSonic monitor no doubt! What are your thoughts on the Season 2.5 changes for Street Fighter V? Better for the game or worse?
Somniac: Been spending a lot of time playing and labbing lately, just reached Master rank on the Street Fighter V leaderboards after getting my ViewSonic so I'm thinking there's a correlation there! In regards to the Street Fighter V patch I really wish they wouldn't have made any major changes mid-season, the fact that the patch is coming a week before Battle Arena Melbourne (which has since been delayed) is a huge worry to me because I can't effectively know what they might change so practicing may or may not be relevant. I'm not too happy with the overall direction of the game but it seems like quite a few American players are so it's who they're choosing to listen to. I'll ride it out regardless because I'm a fan of the franchise.
Steve: How about this new King of Fighters XIV 2.0 patch? Game seems almost new again (it's not even that old!) in terms of balance.
Somniac: I'm loving the KOFXIV patch changes because it feels like more characters are viable now, seeing a lot of different characters show up in tournaments around the world which is great to see. With the KOFXIV balance it's mostly changed some of the easier and abusive strategies, characters are still good but require a different harder path to use them. I think K' is still strong and I'll use him but I'm also trying out Shun'ei as a potential team member. I'm also having a lot of fun with Yamazaki as of late despite him being quite clumsy. I'm overall quite happy with the balance patch and it's also added in additional training mode options which I'm finding really helpful to figure out common situations.
Steve: SNK are really giving it their all when it comes to KOFXIV. It's really good to see them doing what's best for the game. On another topic, recently BornFree did an interview with Bon-chan who said that there was too much disparity in V-Skill between characters in Street Fighter V. As a crazy kinda of question, if you could change M.Bison's V-Skill in any way (big or small) what would you change? For those playing at home, currently he can absorb an attack and (optionally) shoot back a fireball at the enemy.
Somniac: I think Bonchans interview was really accurate and I've bought it up myself a few times that V-Skill's aren't balanced well. Some characters can naturally combo their V-Skill or use it quite frequently and others can barely if ever use it. I like M.Bisons V-Skill change in Season 2 with his ability to store it but I can't help but think it's totally useless in most non-fireball match ups outside of some risky fringe situations. Compare this to Balrog or Ibuki V-Skill which they can use in any match up. Personally I like the fireball reflect V-Skill and I don't want to see it gone, but I'd like the ability to change my V-Skill, maybe give me something else to use against non-fireball characters to allow me to build V-Trigger during combos.
Steve: That would be pretty cool, a V-Skill/V-Trigger select like in other Street Fighter games where you could choose a different Super (SF3) or Ultra (SF4). Lets talk more about BAM9, one of the big draw cards this year is being a Capcom Pro Tour Premier event which naturally draws international talent. Daigo and Infiltration have already been announced but I've heard rumours about all kinds of players coming out. Who would you like to see or even play against at BAM9?
Somniac: With so many international players coming to BAM9 I am excited to play any of them, last time I played Infiltration he was able to close it out 2-1 so I'd like to get a runback of that match to see if I can take him out.
Steve: I really hope Infiltration does make it down to BAM9, I know he registred but he did pull out of Northern California Regionals (NCR) just the other week saying that "I'm not ready to compete on the Capcom Pro Tour". Either way, the show will go on... Historically, local players have learnt a lot when international players come out to compete, do you think history will repeat itself this year?
Somniac: I'm looking forward to our local players causing upsets, I think there are very strong players in our scene and I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't so easy for the international players this time around.
Steve: Earlier you mentioned that you attained Master rank the CFN leaderboards in Street Fighter V, during your climb you must have come across a lot of strong local players, do you think any of these notorious online names will make a big splash at BAM9 or will it be the same names we've been seeing from OHN14 and previous tournaments?
Somniac: A few the names to look out for... I think that Nooblet will be a contender with his Akuma and there are several strong contenders from Sydney. I expect my Dark Sided team mates ZG and Falco topple some big names as well.
Steve: Make some predictions for BAM9? Highest placing Aussie? Who will win Street Fighter V at BAM9?
Somniac: As long as the highest placing Aussie is the winner if BAM9 I'll be happy either way, ideally one of our Dark Sided boys being the #1 spot. I'm going to do my prediction from BAM 2012 which was I am going to win, which worked for me that time so let's see if it works this time haha
Be sure to catch Somniac on Twitter and you can also come down and cheer for Somniac at Battle Arena Melbourne 9! 13-14th of May at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.