CLG's NAKAT: 'I think [Fox] is on the cusp of being Top 5, if not fifth'

by Daniel Rosen May 28 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Dennis Gonzales / theScore esports

Tyrell "NAKAT" Coleman juggles a lot of things. He's an actor, as well a professional Smash 4 player who juggles three characters at once. But at least two of his characters have seen some pretty significant moves on the tier list recently — Pikachu is falling while Fox is on the rise.

During an appearance at EGLX, NAKAT sat down with theScore esports to talk about Pikachu's issues, why his Fox is different from the norm and the community reaction to Bayonetta players.

Editor's Note: This interview was conducted before the release of patch 1.1.6, which included nerfs to Bayonetta.

How do you feel about Ness these days? How does he fare against Bayonetta?

I think Ness does exceptionally well. His primary weakness in the matchups is his recovery, which Bayonetta has no problem abusing and gimping. So offstage he loses, but that's kind of the theme of Ness. Offstage he dies. But on-stage, I feel like Ness can go toe-to-toe, but of course, you do have to play it very smart, because while we do have the grab combos, say we want to do a f-air of a n-air, if she witch times that, it could be death. So Does does very well right now, in my opinion. He's one of the better characters versus her.

You were an Ice Climbers player back in Brawl, and those characters got a lot of flak for similar reasons as Bayonettta. What do you think of the comparison?

Well, I feel like Bayonetta and Ice Climbers do have the ability to carry players, well, that's what the community is saying which is true. I've fought Bayonetta players who, you know, they're a lot harder when they play Bayonetta, and you can tell in their neutral game that it was very undeveloped, but the characters tools were so good that it doesn't matter. The same can't be said about Ice Climbers, In fact, Ice Climbers only had four representatives at top level who were able to be consistent and win with them at that level, because bad Ice Climbers, while the threat of being zero-to-deathed existed, it was easy to beat them in the neutral because their neutral isn't good. So removing Nana, killing the other Ice Climber, removes the zero-to-death gimmick, then you're just fighting one Ice climber, a watered down character and a player that might not be that good with them. The only four Ice Climbers that were top level in Brawl were me, Vinnie, ESAm and 9B, that's it. And we were spread out. Florida for ESAM, Tri-State for me and Vinnie, and then 9B's in Japan.

So Bayonetta has been bringing up players who you've never actually heard of, they're coming out of nowhere and taking matches, sets, winning tournaments off of other top players, so it's sparked a lot of controversy in the community. The only way I could say the two are relatable are they have the zero-to-death gimmick. Bayonetta's is a lot more flexible, you have Witch Time, so you can kill someone off-stage very early with Witch Time. (...) Ice Climbers, you just needed to grab. I can't tell you which one is that much better than other.

But the thing that the community is doing, which I think is disrespectful, is that good players who pick up Bayonetta are often criticized and thrown in the gutter with everybody else, and that sucks, because there are some really talented players who were held back by characters who weren't that good and they decided, "you know what, I want to win, I'm doing well with Bayonetta, I'm going to stick with Bayonetta" and I totally respect that. At the end of the day it is a competition. I love Bayonetta, I want to play Bayonetta, who knows if I might use Bayonetta, I don't know. I was genuinely happy that she's in the game, because I love the character. Some people play her for that reason, but it's sucks when you play a character like Ice Climbers in Brawl, or Bayonetta, or even Ice Climbers in Melee, they get crap too. It sucks. You become public enemy number one, even if you're the nicest person on the planet.

So, talking about your other mains, how do you feel about Fox these days? Larry Lurr has been making some waves with the character, is the perception of Fox changing?

I think Fox has always been a Top 10 character, but with the nerfs to certain characters, and Fox's metagame progressing due to perfect-pivoting becoming very essential to bring that character to a Top 5 level, I think he is on the cusp of being Top 5, if not fifth. I think Fox is remarkable actually. He's been my favourite character since Smash existed, and I decided "You know what man, I'm gonna play Fox a lot more." I changed my control scheme, which I'm still getting used to, learning how to perfect pivot, but I've seen the progress in my play in terms of using Fox, and I feel like he's even more dangerous of a weapon for me to have. Larry definitely is setting a ground for "Yeah, this is the way Fox should be played. Aggressively."

I think Larry is a very aggressive Fox player, whereas I come from Brawl where I mained Fox also, I played a more passive-aggressive defensive style, brought it over to Smash 4 and saw that I'm kind of on the other end of the spectrum. I want to show people maybe there's another another way to play Fox. Two styles can work. I think Fox is definitely going to see a bright future, but against Bayonetta, that's one of his worse matchups. People don't think he does well against her. I'm indifferent until I play it, but me fighting Foxes with Bayonetta, I can see the struggles in the matchup already.

What control set up are you using? Are you looking into Bidou?

Bidou is the big thing right now, but I'm not doing that. Y is special, I've always had Y as special since Brawl for triple-lasers, then L for attack. The funny thing for L-attack is that I don't use L at all. I don't press the button. I put l to attack to intimidate people. "Oh sh** man, you use L to attack, you're so weird." I'm like "Yeah man, yeah I am." Off the gate people are like "Oh sh** I've got to worry about this guy." I can even type my name really fast and people go "Damn that was quick, he's the real deal." Tap jump off, A and B smash attack off, and now the C-stick is attack instead of Smash Attack (to help with perfect pivoting).

What about Pikachu then? A lot of people have been down on him lately, and ESAM has been playing around with other characters.

This is great. (laughs) Pikachu is a very fun character, I picked up Pikachu primarily to fight off top-level Sheiks, but as the meta has progressed for months and months, Pikachu has started to dwindle down and it's not because ESAM's not doing as well as he used to, or because I'm not winning as much with Pikachu, because we're often considered the top two Pikachu players. it's that Pikachu does have a lot of issues that people were not exploiting early on. Even when it comes to edge-guarding, Pikachu's strong suit, people have gotten accustomed to it, people are now avoiding the obvious Thunder-spike attempts or the obvious run-off back-airs and forward-airs, and you know, you can still catch people, the threat is still there, but people are getting a lot better at avoiding that stuff. So how is Pikachu really going to kill? Because let's face it, Pikachu's Up-Smash is not safe, so you have to rely on getting grab to Down-B, and then people started DI-ing that, so it's hard to get Up-Throw to Thunder-spike, so here you are, you're trying to land raw Smash attacks to get kills, and it's hard.

Characters like Sheik, Pikachu was probably Sheik's harder matchups, I actually think that as time progressed, Sheik became a lot harder for Pikachus to handle, because Sheiks started to realize that Pikachu's struggled up close, forward-tilt was a great move to just stuff Pikachu out, his weight allowed him to get comboed very easily, down-throw, Up-air, back when Sheik had it was a huge threat to Pikachu. It was a huge threat to anybody, but Pikachu not being a really heavy character, dies pretty early. Pikachu does have struggles in other matchups with top-tier characters, and I do think that Pikachu's matchup spread is still strong and mostly in his favour, but there are important matchups he does struggle with. The Mario brothers, he struggles with them, including Doctor Mario. Game & Watch, Ness, there are a couple other matchups too that Pikachu doesn't just flat out win. So I don't think Pikachu sucks, I don't think he's not a Top 10 character, but I never saw Pikachu as being second best in the game, at most I saw Pikachu at fourth. Now I see him at the sixth to eighth range possible.

What's your competitive goal for 2016?

Well it's always first place. That's always the goal. I want to become more consistent at majors, because I always feel like I psyche myself out and I don't do as well as I know I can or should do. I want to be consistent with Top 8 placings if I'm not winning the tournament. Recently I got 13th at Pound, I wasn't very happy with my performance on the last day against ESAM, so I definitely want to run back, because I just need that runback badly. I just want to get back to where I was before I had a bunch of distractions in my life. And now that things are winding down, I think that I can really hyper-focus.I've been practicing a lot. A lot. And my fans keep me going, to be honest. I've seen people that do really well, but the moment you do badly, the community tears you apart, like, what the hell? There's bandwagoners, Twitch chat trolls, it can actually get to people.

So I've started to remove toxicity in my life, by going to extremes like blocking r/Smashbros. There's a lot of good on that Subreddit, but when you see the bad, you don't really want to be around it and. And then Twitch chat, if I'm talking, I'll chat with other people, with my friends in the chat, but if people start being stupid, I usually just hide the chat. I don't need to see that. People don't do things offline, it's the internet, obviously. People feel like "yeah, I can do whatever I want!" But I feel like people forget that pro players are human beings too, and if you have a thousand people saying "Oh, you should die," and then go "are you getting mad, it's just a troll." What do you mean? I'm not allowed to be offended. So yeah, that's kind of my mindset. Remove the negativity, focus, and strive for my goals.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.