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NEWS

Strong Histories and Uncertain Futures: SonicFox and Strive

Aug 122021

Right now, Guilty Gear: Strive might just be the biggest fighting game out there and Dominique “SonicFox” McLean might just be the best Strive player out there. Released just about two months ago, Strive won over a huge chunk of the fighting game community (FGC) with its stellar visuals and with its ability to connect players from all across the world in online battles - something fighting games have struggled with for decades.

 

The game’s skyrocketing popularity also brought in a huge amount of players - professional and amateur alike - from all corners of the FGC. Top Street Fighter players, Guilty Gear loyalists, and anime fighters have all been getting into the game. But of all those players, SonicFox has recently risen to the top becoming possibly one of the best in the game by winning the massive thousand-entrant LEVO online tournament on top of several smaller events.

 

For SonicFox it’s nothing new. They have sat at the top of many established titles and are renowned for their ability to learn quickly - something crucial in the early meta of a newly released game. Inside this brand new game, SonicFox also finds a lot of familiarity - surprisingly, stemming from his time in Mortal Kombat.

"it’s early meta so anything goes but that’s why it’s kinda fun."

Does the game feel like it’s well fit for you?

Yes, I believe Guilty Gear: Strive fits my playstyle and what I look for in a fighting game because it’s a game a kind of played before with Mortal Kombat 11 [MK 11]. The game is very throw-strike oriented but with a lot of layered mix ups and things like that too. I’m already pretty familiar with that concept with Mortal Kombat so being able to apply that in Strive, I feel really at home already.

Do you feel like that NRS [NetherRealm Studios] game knowledge applies particularly well over to Strive?

Yes, playing footsies-oriented movement and just general game knowledge applies really well over to Strive. That’s why another top [NRS] player named Showoff is already one of the best players too.

Would you wanna see more of the MK scene expand into Strive? Like Dragon, Ninjakilla...

Yes, absolutely! I think a player like Dragon, a player like Rewind, I think they would be top players if they played Strive. I’ve been trying to convince them - some of them have started to learn it so it’s pretty exciting.

How do you approach these early metas in games where everything is so volatile?

Well, it’s early meta so anything goes but that’s why it’s kinda fun. I study a lot, I pay attention to what’s going on. What’s good; what’s not good? What are people doing; what aren’t people doing?

So I’m well aware that Sol is in his own tier but I can also tell within the current meta too that playing Leo - people aren’t ready for a character like that either. Especially if they don’t play a good Leo.

Do you feel like there are any characters that are going to fall off as we move out of the early meta? Do you feel there are any characters that are gonna rise up?

So far, no. Characters I do think are going to rise up are gonna be Anji and Axl. Anji I think is way underrated and a lot underrated than people are giving him credit for, I just think he’s hard. When a lot of people start understanding why the things that he does are really good and why his setplay can be pretty strong, I think some eyes are going open.
I think you’re going to see a lot more Potemkins too and a lot more Nagos [Nagoriyuki] as well. I think Nago is the biggest, scariest character in this game.

"You’re going to die much faster [In strive]. I’m telling everyone right now."

Is it just because of his raw, almost 0-to-death level of damage?

It’s that and his ability to whiff punish you and take all your life bar from anything, which is pretty against the rules of this game, to be honest. This game’s a lot about point war where you do your best footsies normal and unless you have meter you don’t get anything from it. He does his best normal and he gets a full combo into one of the best strike/throws in the entire game.

How do you feel about the game’s corner mechanic? Do you like the wall-break? Would you like to see it fine-tuned in any way?

I like the idea behind resetting people back to neutral because Guilty Gear is notorious for knocking the opponent down and they don’t get to play the game ever again. So I like the idea they’re going for and getting the reward from it is very strong too - you get to do a lot of fun stuff when you break the wall.
It could definitely be refined more. I wouldn’t know exactly how, maybe a better indicator - like a gauge - telling us when the wall is breaking. Or maybe alternate ways to elect to not break the wall.
Corner pressure is still as insane as it ever is, with a lot of characters. It’s just that breaking the wall is too good - that’s the thing. We thought we would hate it but when you break the wall like, damn, you become one of the most broken characters. Doesn’t matter who you are, you kinda get to run your shit for a good while.

This game moves so fast, a lot faster than...

Even Skullgirls! It’s kind of insane.

What do you think the ideal format would be?

3 out of 5. The whole way.

Even for pools?

Yep, the game is too fast and too volatile to not be 3 out of 5. I legit went to a tournament and finished 3 matches in 2 minutes.

What makes you feel like it should be all 3 out of 5, no best of 7’s?

To me it feels the best, works the best, and it’s the most efficient. Maybe Top 4, make it 4 out of 7, I think that’s okay. I actually think that’s a pretty cool format.

Do you feel the game will change pace at all as players improve and optimize?

You’re going to die much faster. I’m telling everyone right now. We’re already killing each other and we’re not even a full month in yet.

To Strive or not to Strive

 

For those embedded in the FGC, this all might sound strange. We conducted this interview in the middle of July where SonicFox frankly had a lot more fervor for the game. Since then, they made the FGC news just by tweeting out how they weren’t feeling as interested in it anymore.

 

 

Whether it’s burnout or falling out of love, SonicFox’s heart hasn’t been in Strive as much recently. However, they’re not calling it quits yet and have plans to compete in Strive’s EVO online competition. Not to mention, they still give the game a lot of props and find a lot to be excited about when it comes to the title’s future (even if it won’t involve them as heavily).

 

Don’t count SonicFox out just yet - a combination of DLC characters and old and new rivalries might just be the thing to reel them back in.

"I don’t think there is a better feeling in the world than being able to have somebody that can keep up with you"

You’ve also watched the story mode on stream, right?

Yes, yes that shit was sick. Loved it. I am in the Happy Chaos waiting room right now. I will literally drop every character for Happy Chaos if they announce him.

Who would you like to see become a DLC character? Happy Chaos?

Oh, Happy Chaos! I call him Gay Chaos cause he’s gay and he has like a pink maybach and I’m here for it, alright. He’s like the Joker but squared and he’s one of the coolest antagonists I’ve seen in a fighting game in a long ass time and I just want to play my sexy gay antagonist [laughs].
He has guns too and if you’ve ever seen me play other fighting games, I cannot help but play gunslingers. [...] Happy Chaos looks like just my kind of person - from how I’m anticipating him to play.

You recently had a showmatch with GO1, connecting between the US and Japan. But you’ve also had some connection drops against [Guilty Gear player] Joe Biden. How is Strive’s online feeling to you?

The online experience overall is amazing, if you can get past actually being able to connect with somebody. You can play with anyone in the world - not a lot of fighting games are able to do that. The only one I can think of is Skullgirls. [...] I just can’t wait for the future because like the future is now.

On GO1, are you hoping to renew that rivalry going into Strive?

Yeah I hope so. I hope he takes the game really seriously because I wanna top our DBFZ rivalry because it’s pretty hard to top that! I wanna see if we can go beyond that.

When you get competitive in a field, is there a certain joy to that? To being challenged or pushed by another person?

Yes, I don’t think there is a better feeling in the world than being able to have somebody that can keep up with you or push you to become the strongest version of yourself. Already playing this game and having a rivalry with DEB, she’s pushed me and made me learn new things about fighting games in terms of defensive plays. Starting this trans rights rivalry between us is kinda sick because I already consider her one of the best, if not the best, Guilty Gear player and she thinks very highly of me too.

Given your offense and his defense, if you and GO1 did a fusion dance, would there be anybody who could stop you?

No.

Would there be any two players who if they fused, could stop you?

No. Sorry.
But, if GO1 and I find a way to fuse, you guys are finished. I have all of GO1’s defensive knowledge and he has all of my offensive habit reading, you guys are done. There’s just no way.

 

Given that SonicFox won’t be able to fusion dance with GO1 before EVO - and possibly won’t be able to find the same love of the game - how well they’ll do is anyone’s guess. We could see the same SonicFox that brought down legends like Punk, DEB, and Joe Biden. Or a SonicFox who’s more playing SkullGirls, Mortal Kombat, and the Happy Chaos waiting game. Win, lose, or even step away entirely - at the end of it all, doing it after dominating and defining the game early meta is a uniquely “SonicFox” story.

 

 

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