As one of North America's strongest Street Fighter IV players, Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez has a lot of expectations on his shoulders heading into the first competitive year of Street Fighter V. With second place finishes at Texas Showdown and West Coast Warzone, PR Balrog is looking pretty good early on, but he says he can get better.
Ahead of his Top 8 performance at Toryuken, PR Balrog sat down with theScore esports to talk about what he needs to learn in SFV, why he plays Necalli, and why he isn't a big fan of the game just yet.
How do you feel about Street Fighter V right now from a competitive standpoint?
To be honest, I don't like Street Fighter V's wake up game. I feel like it's very random. The momentum shifts way too much. I usually like games where I can take control, and in this game I feel like I cannot get that control, so overall I dislike the game more than I like it. But I feel like in time I will grow to actually like it. It's just that it's a new game.
Do you miss the level of control that Street Fighter IV's systems offered you then?
The thing is, this game, on wake up, is very crazy. The person on the offense is just way too strong, always. Defense has V-Reversal, which is okay, it's not pretty good, and you have to commit way too much to the defensive.
What drew you to Necalli?
I like big damage characters is the first thing. Other than that I think he looks pretty cool, especially when he goes into V-Trigger. There's nothing else... I don't like any character in the game. I feel like they're all boring to me. There's no character that actually fits me yet, so I just picked up him because he was probably the first character I played.
So, Balrog is coming back eventually, what would you want out of that character?
I don't know, it's hard to say because this game is so different than the other games. I guess good normals is a plus always. I've always liked really good ranged normals. I don't know why I don't play Karin, but she seems like the best style to me. So if Balrog is that sort of same style like Karin and has good pressure and good defense, than I feel like I will want to play him.
It's interesting that you're saying you aren't feeling any characters so far, is it something about the game's system that's doing that for you?
It's just the game. The game is like that. It's not my character. My character has a lot of options, he has a Dragon Punch, he has a three-frame jab too. It's just me adapting to the game. I feel like I haven't adapted fully yet. I feel like I'm way too aggressive and I don't stop. There's a lot of things... I just don't understand the game.
Who do you feel are the strongest characters right now?
Ryu, Chun-Li and Nash. Those three characters are... well and Karin. Those four characters can control the game-pace. So as I was saying before, I feel like in the future, once you start controlling the other player, that's when you start... everything gets to a certain level, and that's when you start separating tiers.
People keep pegging Chun-Li as a top-tier character, but she doesn't quite have the results yet, why do you think that is?
A lot of people are just playing with instant-air legs all the time and rushing down, but she doesn't play like that. Me and Justin had this talk actually, and we feel like she needs to play extremely safe, which is funny because I told him, "I don't think Chun-Li is that good," and he said, "Nah, I think people are just playing her wrong." She needs to play a little bit safer. That makes sense, and me looking at her style, it makes sense. She's kind of like the perfect character, so I think in the future she will be extremely strong.
You've had a couple really close second-place finishes at tournaments recently, has that affected you at all mentally?
Well, I don't really mind that. The first year I've always said is for learning. To me, the results that are now, I don't really care. You can be a top player now, but in the future you're probably going to fall down. That's what happens most of the time, vanilla Street Fighter IV was the same thing. Aside from the Japanese, everybody started really good then [they plateaued]... I don't know if it's going to happen the same in this game, because like I said this game to me is pretty crazy. It's one of those games that if you're crazy, as in like crazy playstyle and you just have momentum, then probably you're going to win.
What's your strategy for the Pro Tour this season? You've been hitting up a lot of ranking tournaments recently, are you just out for points?
I'm pretty much studying. I sadly don't have as much time as I had in Street Fighter IV, but I'm trying to do my best to study the game, seeing what I can do better, how I can approach. I feel that since people are like, Dragon Punching everywhere and doing stuff for no reason, I feel like that's going to change in the future. I'm planning to do more long-term stuff than short-term stuff.
Is that your goal for 2016 then, just to learn the game for a year?
My goal is to learn as much as possible. I don't need no championship, I don't need anything. As long as I know I'm really good, that's enough for me. I do want to win! Don't get me wrong! Of course. But right now, this year, I want to learn as much as possible. I'm trying to get back in my gaming. That break that I took last year was really rough for me, and coming back wasn't easy, but I'm trying to manage my time just to study everything.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.