Written by JunaeBenne
With this shelter in place happening, what better way to spend it than getting to know our favorite players in the Fighting Game Community? First up is Brian "Brian_F" Foster, beloved Street Fighter V pro player and popular FGC content creator.
But what has Brian been up to during his quarantine time? Brian has been making the most of his quarantine by streaming, playing in tournaments, creating tons of content, and even flirting with an old flame, Marvel vs Capcom 3 alongside Marvel 2.
“I’ve been watching a ton of old footage of MVC3. I didn’t have time or the mental capacity to do,” said Brian.
A vital aspect of Brian's practice strategy is this persistent commitment to the game he picks and staying efficient with his time and effort. Once Brian sets his mind to a game, he sticks to it and learns the in's and out's of the game.
“My talent is being stubborn," said Brian. "I’m willing to put the hours in until I make a breakthrough. I can’t just transition from my current game to another and expect to be at the same skill level.
I can’t play a game for too long unless I care. I have to make the decision if I’m going to get good at and keep it or drop it and focus on something else."
Now with less tournaments going on I’m still grinding SFV," said Brian. "But it’s nice to expand my horizons and mess with some games." He went on to describe how his job as a Software Engineer allows him to travel to different cities, compete in tournaments, and work from home during the pandemic.
Work and Play
Brian said, “I was into Mechanical Engineering and I got tired of building bridges. At the point, it was getting boring. I was taking programming classes and I was like oh, this how computers work. I had no idea.
People assume that being in gaming I’d know how they work, but I had no knowledge [of] how under the hood programming actually operated and I made the switch to Computer Science. I enjoyed the math. I made the switch two years into my Mechanical Engineering degree to Computer Science.”
Brian uses math not only at work but also during competitions. The math helps him breakdown and approach Fighting Games from a unique and logical perspective. He says he’s heard commentators call him a scientist for the way he plays SFV. He assures me that he is no scientist; he just has a strong desire to understand how things work.
Although, his first competitive Fighting Game was Street Fighter 4, Brian made it very clear that the work he puts in for SFV is vastly different from his previous regiment.
Brian said, “I put years into SF4 and none of it could be transferred to SFV,” Brian said, “I knew because people that I’d beat in SF4 I couldn’t beat in SFV. This was the first time I really broke down every number in the game. SFV was my wake up call.”
Photo by Capcom Fighters
Brian makes it clear that he is happy to put in the work because it gives him "intuitive knowledge." When the tutorials arrived, he immediately got in the lab. Knockdown calculations are one of the first things he started practicing, then learning frame data and numbers for the different moves. His habits in game mimics his work ethic in his everyday life. No matter what task he takes on, he is always computing and processing.
Brian admitted, “I have to know explicitly how it works, that’s my programming mentality.”
The Road to Competition
Brian’s path to becoming a professional player was linear. He started off with TEKKEN 2 on a PlayStation demo disk, had faint memories of Bloody Roar and mashing on Street Fighter 2. Later on, after picking up SF4, he quickly realized button-mashing wouldn't fly.
“I hated it and I thought it was trash. I [have] never been bad at a game before. Any game I played, I had to be the best... I couldn’t beat the first person in Arcade Mode on easy...”
But as we learned about Brian earlier, he doesn’t quit easily. Despite his initial frustrations, Brian would make an effort to learn the game, checking out all the resources available, after which he discovers the competitive SF4 scene. Shortly after, Brian began attending local Florida FGC tournaments with his friends and even attended majors like CEO 2011.
“I traveled to [tournaments] out of state in 2016," said Brian. "I would try to compete in anything locally. My character (Balrog) was top tier in 2017, and I had a job so I started going to everything."
As Brian recalled 2016 as a great year not only because Balrog was broken, but also because he experienced Fighting Game competition at a heightened level. And he was starstruck. Brian said, “That is the first time I saw Justin Wong. And I thought I knew him because I had seen him so often watching other tournaments."
Brian attended the University of Florida at the same time as professional Smash player Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma. Both players would attend local competitions. Brian mentioned, "We went to university at the same time and Smash was a huge deal then. I couldn't hustle anyone on the FGC side because there weren't many people to hustle. Smash tourneys would have 100 attendees and SF had way less. So once the pecking order was decided, you pretty much knew who everyone was."
Winding down with Brian_F
So, what's Brian's favorite food? Brian admitted, “I’m not much of a favorites person because I pretty much like everything. I’m not a picky eater. You as a person are always changing. One day you’ll love something then you could hate it the next."
And what about recent non-gaming experiences? "I'm not very outdoorsy," said Brian. "but we went camping with luxury. A pop-up camp with a bed and shower. We used to go out fishing, but I was a hardcore nerd. I just wanted to play video games all the time."
“Before [competing in the FGC], I didn’t fly much. My parents are really into camping, so we would drag a pop-up camp. I didn’t get to see much of the cities except Montreal," said Brian. "The nightlife was raunchy. There would be a car flipped over and on fire, people would get into fights, and the cops would just watch them beat each other up... The culture it way different.”
Building The Community
“My stream has been a constant grind so I’ve been making some time for myself in between,” says Brian, “I exercise, stretching, anything to keep moving. I’ve been producing a lot more YouTube stuff. And I’ve been trying to do more community events.
My stream is usually me documenting my training for tournaments. Just last week I did most hype. I gave away $50 for most hype game clips. We made a bracket and the chat decided who was the most hype. It was a unique way to get the community involved. Having a good time is something we need right now so I’ve been trying to do more for the community.”
And I know you’re wondering if Brian has jumped on the hype train of Animal Crossing New Horizons and the answer is yes. “This is my first one [in the series]. Normally, I wouldn’t play like that because if I’m playing a game casually, I feel like I should be practicing, I’m able to relax a little bit. I needed something that was mindless and relaxing. It’s nice to have something to decompress, chop some trees and catch some bees."
Written by JunaeBenne, an EQNX content contributor. She is also an esports journalist and Gaming Specialist at the Microsoft Gaming store. Find more of her content here.