After almost three years of being considered one of the best Smashers in the country, Chillin emerged from a mob of great competition at MLG Philly with his first major win. Over those years Chillin’s name has become synonymous with the character Fox. He was only 14 years-old when he beat Ken with Fox at Game Over in Virginia. Now, at 16, he is beginning to mature into one of the strongest Smashers in the country.
Many people are impressed after watching the combo video “Shined Blind” by DBR, but after just one match with Chillin, the awe of “Shined Blind” is quickly overshadowed by his ridiculously technical skill that allows him to pull off mind boggling combos. For those of you who don’t know, Fox’s Shine move (Down + B), is considered the backbone of any Fox’s game. Using it as a combo-starter can lead into any number of subsequent moves that the majority of other characters are helpless to defend against. This move is so versatile and its effects are so far-reaching that an entire article could be written about it alone, assuming the Fox player knows what he’s doing. In Chillin’s case, he takes full advantage of this move with stunning accuracy and speed, making him a very dangerous opponent.
Chillin grew up in Northern Virginia, and as most Smashers know, the Washington D.C. area is home to one of the largest and most well-defined Smash communities in America. Because of the community’s great depth, Chillin has been able to hone his skills with the local competition. His crew, H2YL, was once considered the best in the country, and as of late it is once again emerging as the dominant force in Smash. Now, after the phenomenal MLG Philly and just before the Conference Championships are slated to begin, I have been fortunate enough to talk with Chillin about his Smash experience. Please enjoy MLG’s first in-depth look into the mind of a Smasher…
MLG: Considering that this is your first interview with MLG and the first Smash interview in general, could we discuss your background a little? When did you first start Smashing?
Chillin: I first started playing right when the game came out. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, but when I first saw screenshots of Melee I was convinced it would be an amazing game, and it turns out it was. As far as competitive play, it started around six months after the game came out, when I learned of Smashboards.com and realized there was competition outside of just my friends.
MLG: When was your first tournament?
“Since there are so many different things that you can do in any given situation, it makes it so that everyone develops their own style, and there is no one style that completely beats out the rest.”
Chillin: My crew and I actually held the tournament which was our first, and probably one of the earlier tournaments to happen for Smash. It was in August 2002, and I placed fourth.
MLG: Who was in your crew?
Chillin: Azen, Anden, Mild, Jtanic and I were initially in H2YL when it formed. Later, we met Chu Dat at a tournament where he greatly impressed us by taking out Azen, who was (and still is) our best player. After the group was formed, for a while it was unclear who the next best was after Azen, but I quickly emerged as the second best. This was shown at Game Over when I took Ken out of the Winners’ Bracket and placed higher than the rest of my crewmates except Azen.
MLG: Are any of them still around?
Chillin: Azen and Chu Dat still play and are among the best players in the world. Jtanic and Anden had circumstances which prevented them from continuing to play competitively.
MLG: Which character do you prefer to use? Why?
Chillin: I prefer to use Fox. I initially played Sheik (I had decided I’d play as Sheik even before the game came out) and then about a year or so after it came out I switched to Fox as a main character. Recently, I’ve been using more varied characters for practice, but I haven’t yet played them in tournaments. I hope to start using other characters in tournaments whenever I think I can. To be honest, I feel like my other characters can take most people. There are only a few people who could really beat my Sheik or Marth, for example, and even getting into lower (tier) characters such as Samus and Mario, I think those characters could still do some damage in a tournament. However, I’m known for Fox, and people probably want to see my Fox in action when they play me, which is understandable. But I’m going to try to implement some diverse character selections in future tournaments.
MLG: Your brother Mild played well competitively too? What ever happened to him?
Chillin: He simply quit. He never seemed that into the game, and when he started playing an online game last year, he decided to quit Smash mainly because of it. He’s since stopped playing the online game so much, but he still doesn’t Smash. Basically, as a player, he wasn’t very good. He had very little actual skill, and he played with about as much passion as a beached whale. Strangely enough, he still beat several top players and did well, although when he and I went head to head, it was rare for him to even get me to two stock.
MLG: Did he help you get to where you are today?
Chillin: He gave me tons of Fox vs. Sheik practice, so I now rarely have trouble against Sheiks. Other than that, his style was so different that he didn’t really prepare me for anyone else. His play style was so slow and ineffective against me that I quickly made it so that he couldn’t really compete with me. So I still got some practice against Sheik, but as far as his style specifically, it wasn’t very good to train against.
MLG: What do you think gives Smash the sort of depth that allows it to be such a strong competitive game, despite being over four years old?
Chillin: I think what makes Smash so deep and involving is its move system. On the surface it seems easy to master, but as the overall level of competition increases, so does the time it takes to master. That’s one thing that is pretty interesting about Smash: you can have fun playing it at any level, whereas with some other fighting games you would need to play them for a long time to really get used to it.
Since the Smash community evolved like it did, having the technical skills wasn’t enough anymore. You would have to learn when and where to use certain moves at certain times. Additionally, since there are so many different things that you can do in any given situation, it makes it so that everyone develops their own style, and there is no one style that completely beats out the rest.
“It seemed like everyone had a tournament victory; even people who I was far better than.”
MLG: Do you feel that the Nintendo Power article on Smash will have a positive impact on the tournament community?
Chillin: It’s hard to say at this point, since I would think the article has already been read by most people who would read it, and I haven’t seen tournament numbers skyrocket or anything like that. I think in the end it will increase the competitive scene’s popularity but not by an extreme amount.
MLG: Did you read the article?
Chillin: Yes, I did, and I thought it was a decent article, but not as relevant to the actual competitive Smash community as it should have been.
MLG: Do you feel that Nintendo should do more to help the Smash community and run more feature articles like the one in issue #195?
Chillin: I think they should if they are more pertinent to competitive Smash. There was a section in that article debating issues that aren’t even a factor to competitive Smashers, as well as a section defining terms that no one in the Smash community uses. Still, it did expose more people to the tournament scene, so it wasn’t a bad thing, but in the future if similar articles are run, they should be more specific to competitive Smash.
MLG: Leading up to MLG Philly, you placed well at GS2 (fourth of 128), but then had a somewhat disappointing showing at FC3 (17th of 184). Could you describe what your attitude was entering MLG Philly?
Chillin: I don’t think I did as well as I could’ve at FC. I lost to KrazyJones in the first round of the bracket, and then Dope in the Losers’ Bracket. I felt like I played a terrible match versus Dope, and having beaten him before in both a money match and a round robin match, I feel like I should have won that match without much trouble. So, because of that, I was looking to prove myself with MLG Philly to show that GS2 wasn’t a fluke. Additionally, since Philly was not going to attract all of the top players, I thought it was my best chance to finally win a tournament.
MLG: Many people out there wonder what a high level player does to train himself for tournaments. What sort of training do you go through to prepare yourself?
Chillin: Mainly, I play with my friends and some local players. Most of the time I’ll play Azen and sometimes Chu Dat, and a year or two ago I’d play Mild, Anden, and Jtanic just as often. As far as training on my own, it is mostly un-timed matches versus Level 1 computers just to refine my technical skill.
MLG: Could you explain the limitations of fighting Level 9 computers, and why you (and most other competitive players) prefer to fight Level 1′s?
Chillin: The problem with Level 9′s is they have an extremely predictable and easy to counter style. For example, they always come back to the edge in the exact same way and they never change it. Additionally, most Level 9 characters don’t even use the best techniques for getting back, such as bomb jumping and grappling with Samus. Because of this, training against them is basically useless to improve against human competition. The reason I prefer Level 1′s is because I’m not playing computers to increase my overall playing ability, just to increase my technical skill. This can be done on Level 9′s, but they fight back, and it gets annoying since they don’t fight back in the same way humans do. Level 1′s are essentially dummies which you can use to practice technical skills on.
MLG: Was it frustrating being considered near the top, yet never having a tournament victory to call your own? Even Mild had BOMB 1.
Chillin: It definitely was frustrating, especially since it seemed like everyone had a tournament victory; even people who I was far better than. For example, Snex would taunt me, saying “How many tourneys have you won?” He and I both knew I was far better than him, but since he had attended tournaments with no one even halfway decent, he had a couple of victories under his belt.
My problem was that every tournament I’d ever been to except BOMB1, Smash 4 Cash and MLG DC had Azen there as well. Most of the time, if someone else didn’t take me out, Azen would. Even if I managed to get a lucky victory in the winner’s bracket, he’d still beat me in the finals. At BOMB1, which was my only realistic chance to win, I lost to Mild, which was one of my most embarrassing losses in history considering how much better I knew I was. Because of that, I was motivated to win a tournament, but it didn’t happen until much later.
MLG: Who did you expect to be your most difficult obstacle in singles at MLG Philly?
Chillin: I was mainly afraid of Neo, because he had a very cheap and effective style versus Fox with his Roy. Although truly, I didn’t think he would beat me anyway.
MLG: Any others?
Chillin: Azen, of course, who is always a threat, but he wasn’t the biggest one for me since he wasn’t using very good characters. Then I considered PC Chris, Oro, Wes, and Drephen all serious threats.
MLG: Describe what happened between you and Neo?
Chillin: After GS2, when we missed the final round and ended up 9th, Neo for some reason wanted to talk publicly about how much he thought I ruined our chances. He told people that I wasn’t good on teams, even though it was just one bad performance. At that point, he decided to team with PC Chris instead of me, which turned out to be a mistake.
MLG: So, when did you and Oro decide to team and form “The Cape Never Dies?”
Chillin: It was right after I found out that Neo and PC were teaming. Since Azen had agreed to team with Husband long before that, I thought about who my best chance left would be, and I decided it would be Oro. So I asked to team and he agreed, and I set out to prove Neo wrong.
MLG: Which teams did you think would cause you the most trouble?
Chillin: The main team we were afraid of was Neo and PC Chris. The thing about them is they both have many, many characters to play as and so it’s very tough to figure out a way to beat them. After that, we were also afraid of Azen and Husband, since both are very good players. Wes and DA Chris were also serious threats, but perhaps less so than the others since it was their first time teaming up (at least in a long time). We took out Wes and DA Chris after losing the first match, and we ended up in Winners’ finals against Azen and Husband, who had taken Neo and PC Chris to the Losers’. At that point, we were able to beat Azen and Husband both in the Winners’ Finals and Overall Finals to win, thanks to strong play by Oro and some crafty shines by me.
MLG: Did you stick to Fox the whole tournament?
Chillin: Yeah, at that point I didn’t have any real confidence in my other characters. It was really between then and now that I decided to try and start using other characters in tournaments, but back then I was determined to win the tournament and so I stuck with Fox. Additionally, I didn’t think there was any real threat to my Fox, since I’ve adapted it to counter his counter-characters.
MLG: What would you say was the closest match you had?
Chillin: It was definitely the Winners’ Finals and Finals with PC Chris. In the Winners’ Finals, it was all Fox dittos, and I lost the first match. I was feeling pretty bad about my chances after that, but since that helped alleviate some of my nervousness, I was able to pull out two wins and win that set. In the Finals, after winning the first two against his Falco and Marth, he used Doc. I was up 2 stock to 1 at the end and I could taste victory, but then he took advantage and took my last stock very quickly. It felt like victory had slipped out of my hands, and he went back to Fox dittoing me and 3-stocked me in the fourth match.
At that point, normally I’d quickly counter-pick a stage and start again, and often since I don’t have any time to think through my loss, I’ll lose again. I’ve lost many sets that way. However, I waited and talked it out with Oro, who suggested using Green Greens as the counter-stage. I chose it, and we had an incredibly close Fox ditto which came down to the last stock, but I managed to pull it out and finally win a tournament.
MLG: Major League Gaming first adopted Smash a little over a year ago. Do you think MLG has helped the Smash community grow and become more popular?
Chillin: Yes, I definitely think MLG including Smash in their lineup has been a tremendous boost for the Smash community. Often a tournament drought of a few months will deflate some people’s spirit to play, but because MLG has tournaments so often, there’s always an MLG to go to.
“It really does feel like it’s a sport. The entire atmosphere is very different from other tournaments, perhaps because Smash isn’t the only game there, but it’s a good feeling being at an MLG.”
MLG: What do you like most about the MLG experience?
Chillin: It feels very professional and is tremendously well-run. It really does feel like it’s a sport. The entire atmosphere is very different from other tournaments, perhaps because Smash isn’t the only game there, but it’s a good feeling being at an MLG.
MLG: Do you prefer MLG tournaments over more “independent” tournaments? Do you consider them different categories that you really can’t compare?
Chillin: They are in different categories, and as such I don’t really compare them too much. In general, MLG tournaments are very, very well-run and really bring out the competitive side while fan-run tournaments are more about friendly matches and getting to know your opponents.
MLG: Do you think the MLG rule-set is fair? Would you offer any suggestions or improvements that could be made?
Chillin: Personally I’m not a big fan of stage knockouts and I prefer 5-stock to 4, but I can see their advantages. As far as the rule-set goes, it is pretty standard and fair, and many tournaments use the MLG rule-set as their own.
MLG: What previous MLGs have you attended? How did you place at those?
Chillin: I first attended MLG Atlanta in July 2004. I got first in Teams with Azen (that’s still the only time I’ve teamed with him at a tournament) and fourth in Singles. After that, I attended MLG DC at the beginning of this year, where Neo and I got second in Teams and I got 13th in Singles. Most recently I went to MLG Philly where I got first in both Teams and Singles.
MLG: In about December last year, you thought the Smash community was nearly dead in the D.C. area. Do you attribute some of it’s revival to MLG D.C. in January?
Chillin: MLG D.C. was a big part, but it attracted more out-of-state competition rather than jumpstarting the local scene. In my opinion what really got the MD/VA area going again was BOMB3, where Azen came back, which was one of the main contributing factors to this area (D.C.) getting active again. Additionally, BOMB was traditionally a local tournament, so we got all the local faces, but we also got some people from out of the area, so it was a very good tournament.
MLG: In the future, do you expect that MLG will be an important aspect to the Smash scene and community?
Chillin: Yeah, I hope so. By now, it’s hard to imagine Smash without MLG, so hopefully Smash will continue strong in MLG.
MLG: How do you think things will change when the new Smash comes out sometime next year?
Chillin: I think it depends on the quality of the game. If it is a better game than Melee, it will definitely replace it as the tournament game, and it will give everyone a clean slate. It will be interesting to see the development of tournaments, since Melee tournaments are already so abundant. In contrast, when Melee was released, the competitive community was relatively small. Since it is already quite established, it will be interesting to see if the same people emerge as the top players. A big part of it will be how deep the game is. If they remove something or add too much and try to make it more like a traditional fighting game, it may ruin it. Hopefully, wave-dashing, L-canceling, and similar things still show up, or the game might not be as good.
MLG: Do you think the tournament scene will be as important, or do you think people will rely on online play for their competitive needs?
Chillin: I think and hope the tournament scene will be important. Online play is fun for practice and definitely beats computers, but as far as competitive play at high levels, I don’t think online play will suffice. Halo 2 continues to have tournaments despite being online, and I hope it will be similar for Smash online.
MLG: What are the next few tournaments you are expecting to go to? Do you hope to replicate these results?
Chillin: The only plans I currently have for tournaments to attend are BOMB4 in Maryland and the MLG National Championships in New York. I really hope to do well at BOMB4, specifically Top 3 in Singles. At the MLG National Championships, I’m hoping to place Top 4, and I’m going to continue to train and improve my game. As far as teams for both events, I’m going to hopefully team with PC Chris, and I think we have enormous potential as a team, so I’m sure we’ll do well on both occasions.
MLG: Who do you think is the most underrated Smasher today?
Chillin: There are a few I’d like to mention who have really impressed me but don’t get very much recognition. All of the Ninja Turtles, a Massachusetts crew, are not very well-known, although they have been getting more recognition recently. All of them are very skilled players, especially KrazyJones, who has in my opinion the best Peach in the country. PC Chris, although he has become very well-known, is still underrated as far as elite players go, since most people wouldn’t consider him Top 10 and I definitely think he is in the Top 10. Aside from that, there are tons of players who deserve more recognition, but the ones I mentioned are ones that really impressed me.
MLG: Is there anything else you might want to mention about yourself or the Smash community in general?
Chillin: Yeah, I just want to mention that without H2YL, I wouldn’t even play Smash, let alone be good, so thanks guys. Azen, Chu, Jtanic, Anden–you guys are all awesome. Not Mild, though. H2YL fo’ life, son!
MLG: Thank you for your time.
Chillin: Thanks for having me.