Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez is a veteran of the fighting game scene.
Through the highs of CEO wins and EVO championships, to the lows of a 2016 that saw him sponsorless and grounded for much of the year, he’s been a constant fixture in the FGC for more than half a decade. This past weekend saw him take 9th-12th at Final Round XX in Atlanta, GA, with wins over Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi, Joe "LI Joe" Ciaramelli and Benjamin "Problem X" Simon.
theScore esports spoke with the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 champion to talk about life on Evil Geniuses, the complicated relationship between the Smash community and the rest of the FGC, and everything in between.
Life as an evil genius
New Year’s Day 2017 was an eventful one for the fighting game community. Echo Fox made the first moves in what would become a wave of FGC acquisitions, picking up players like Justin Wong, Tokido and Momochi, while EG announced their signing of ChrisG.
For the man with "New York" in his name but a SoCal address on his driver’s license, it was a long time coming.
“I’ve actually always thought about the day where I’d be part of team EG,” ChrisG told theScore esports. “They are definitely one of the best teams out there. And they gave me what I’ve been wanting for a long time. It’s been great so far. Traveling, competing, streaming. I don’t have to worry about much but just doing my best.”
And with a few familiar faces around, the San Fransico-based org is an easy fit.
“Kbrad and Ricky are cool people. I’ve known them for quite some time now, so nothing has really changed.”
The Jan. 1 signing marked a new year, new opportunities and return to the tournament circuit for ChrisG. Despite an unforgettable EVO win that saw his MorriDoom combo come from losers' bracket to triumph over Nicolas "Kane BlueRiver" Gonzalez’s Hulk/Sentinel/Haggar team, ChrisG was benched for much of 2016.
“I definitely faced a bunch of hardships last year,” he said. “One of the main problems was not having a solid sponsor and not being able to travel and compete. 2016 for me was definitely like one of those bad weeks you have where no matter how much you try, and no matter how much hope you have, it just doesn’t work out for you. But that week is over.”
On Smash Bros. vs. the FGC
The relationship between the Super Smash Bros. community and the rest of the fighting game scene is a complicated one. The answer to whether or not the two are part of one and the same movement depends on who you ask, but ChrisG has his own thoughts on the subject.
“It’s not that it’s not part of the FGC,” he explained. “I just don’t think it wants to be part of the FGC. You ask FGC people about Killer Instinct, they know. Marvel, they know. King of Fighters, they know. We even know Smash and its players. You ask Smash players about any other game, they don’t care."
For ChrisG, Smash is a community unto itself.
“Smash is its own entity,” he said. “They live breath and sleep Smash. They run their own events and don’t really associate with the FGC, not the other way around.
“The difference between Smash and the FGC is that they don’t care if there’s money involved. They don’t care if there’s anything involved. They do it because they enjoy the game. They do it because they enjoy watching Mang0 and Armada take all their money.”
So would the jack-of-all-trades fighting game player ever pick up a Game Cube controller and throw down?
“I started with Melee,” he said. “I love the game and enjoy watching from time to time. I’ve also dabbled in Smash 4 and actually got pretty decent in it. I just didn’t pursue it.”
Looking ahead to 2017
With a handful of premier titles dropping new iterations, outside investment at an all-time high and the announcement that Street Fighter will be getting the ELEAGUE treatment, 2017 is set to be big year for fighting games, said ChrisG.
“Street Fighter V, Injustice 2, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite and Tekken 7 to name a few. With that will come more opportunities, and I believe more teams and brands will Jump at that. With that brings more hype and traffic to the FGC, which ultimately is a good thing,” he said.
Some teams, of course, already have.
“Echo Fox is definitely making big moves. Power moves to be specific,” he said of the team that so far boasts nine FGC pros across multiple games. “They have acquired many top players across all fighting games. All in all it’s great to see people like Rick Fox invest time and money in the FGC.”
And it won’t surprise anyone to know EVO’s reigning MvC3 champ has his eye on the franchise’s next installment. “I personally can’t wait for the game to come out,” ChrisG said of the upcoming Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
“The thought of playing new characters, new combinations, infinity stones, and of course combos, is really exciting to me. I think a lot of people are going to play the game. After all, it’s Marvel, so why not.
"Another big thing is support from Capcom with DLC and other updates. No other versus game got real support. Also it might be at Capcom cup next year, so that’s a huge plus.”
For ChrisG, who seems to have finally found a stable home at EG, the way forward in 2017 is clear: win. “I just want to play the best that I can. With no regrets,” he said.
“I am a champion. This is what I do. I win.”
Colin McNeil is a supervising editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.