Team EG Justin Wong Talks Pro Fighting Games

Pro gamer Justin Wong discusses the competitive fighting game arena.

Team Evil Geniuses is recognized as one of the most successful eSports teams in the world. While most attention in pro gaming these days is focused on League of Legends, Dota 2 and StarCraft II, the fighting game arena remains very strong. Justin Wong plays Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 for Team EG, which also has pros playing across all of the aforementioned games. Wong talks about the professional fighting game space in this exclusive interview.

How long have you been playing the fighting competitive games?

Wong: “For fighting games competitively, I’ve been playing for over ten years now.”

How have you seen the eSports industry evolve when it comes to fighting games?

Wong: “It’s actually been a very big revolution because back in the day it was very underground. The only people that would know about it were those who went onto the forums. But now it’s more commercialized and there are more sponsors. There are also more leagues picking up fighting games now. MLG picked up Mortal Kombat. Capcom is being more proactive with the community by having the Capcom Cup. And obviously Evolution is like the Super Bowl of fighting games.”

Now there was a time not long ago when Evolution seemed like it was on life support and all of a sudden it exploded this past year. What role do you feel livestreaming has played in resuscitating that brand?

Wong: “Livestreaming has definitely helped just every eSports scene in general, but especially the fighting game scene. Back in the day if you wanted to see the footage you had to buy the DVD or the VHS, but now streaming is so popular and everyone can do it because it’s so easy. Shout out to Twitch for doing that. Pretty much because of that now we have so many concurrent viewers watching the streams that it makes fans want to actually come in person. So every year EVO just gets more and more attendees.”

How do you utilize Twitch and streaming?

Wong: “I stream on my personal channel, EG_JWong. I stream training sessions of myself and other various players in Southern California. Sometimes I just play random games because you occasionally need R&R. But I like talking to the people, the fans, and I just try to teach people about fighting games.”

When it comes to fighting games, what does it take to go beyond being good to being pro?

Wong: “To be honest, my advice for people that want to become pro is ‘Don’t think about it.’ If you think about it, then you put yourself in more stress. Just play for fun, because when you play fighting games you play it because you love it and you have had a childhood experience growing up. Who hasn’t put a quarter in a Street Fighter machine at a laundromat when your parents were doing laundry. You know you do it because you enjoy playing the game. That’s how I became a part of Team Evil Genius. I put a lot of time and dedication into it because I love the game.”

What kind of dedication does it take to stay at a professional level? 

Wong: “There’s a lot of traveling because there are so many tournaments these days. I always tell people if you want to get better, travel to a tournament. You’ll come back ten times stronger because you play so much and you gather so much data from people. A person from New York might be playing differently than a person from California. There are different play styles, different everything. So just keep traveling -- even if funds are tight, If you have to travel, make sure you travel to EVO because that’s like the Mecca.”

Do you have a specialty when it comes to fighting games or are you good at multiple games?

Wong: “I’m good at multiple fighting games, but people mainly know me this year for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 because I play with very unique characters. People really enjoy that because they don’t like seeing the staples.”

Who do you play with and give us a couple of tips if someone was going to play as those characters?

Wong: “My current team is Wolverine and Storm Accuma. For a couple of tips, Wolverine is a very strong character but the Storm Shoryuken is just character loyalty. If you want to play those characters you have to have very thick skin. Just because it’s one of those things where you have to make really good reads against your opponent. Hopefully you don’t get discouraged because fighting games are very discouraging if you don’t play what’s top.”

When it comes to fighting games, what are your thoughts about what Xbox One and PS4 out now will bring to fighting games?

Wong: “I’m hoping fighting games start migrating to the Xbox One and PS4. We have Killer Instinct for Xbox One and I really enjoy that game. I’m just hoping that Capcom will somehow make a port of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Street Fighter 4 Ultra, and more games like that. I know more video game companies are probably looking into it, especially like Namco and Tecmo Games for Tekken. Hopefully, it will be soon and not two years from now.”

How does your skills in Marvel vs Capcom 3 translate when you’re playing other games like MK or Killer Instinct?

Wong: “They carry over just because Ultimate is very fast reaction pace, so because of that certain games are more slower to me. It makes me able to have a tighter defense and because of that it helps my overall gameplay. A lot of people like to stick with one game, but I enjoy fighting games as a whole. I like to play multiple games and support multiple communities at the same time.”

Featured Columnist

John Gaudiosi has been covering the video game business for over 20 years for outlets like The Washington Post, Reuters, Fortune, AOL and CNN. He's EIC of video game site

Published Jun. 2nd 2014

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