Five Questions with Peter “ComboFiend” Rosas

Known as one of the premier rushdown specialists in the country, Peter “ComboFiend” Rosas has been terrifying defensive players since the early tournament prime of CvS2. He placed within top 4 twice at Evolution, in 2005 and 2006. This aggressive style has carried over to SF4, where he mains heavily offensive characters such as C.Viper, Abel, and Guy.

Maj: What’s your general opinion of turtle/runaway play styles?

ComboFiend: I think that turtle/runaway players are normally people who really want to win, yet may not have the strongest technical ability, game knowledge, or quick reactions. These players have taught themselves that “Risk = Bad, so why kill myself? I’ll just let the opponent come to me and die.”

I personally think that this playstyle is boring, but if you want to win, a win is a win. I do think this style takes a lot of skill to win with though, primarily when a decent turtle player beats a very good rushdown player.

Maj: Have you ever been tempted to kick back and change your style to a more defensive mindset? What keeps you committed to rushdown characters even when it doesn’t work out?

ComboFiend and Pyrloee reflection at EvoWest2k6ComboFiend: Yes, there have been many tournaments where I’ve lost to those that have sat back while I tried to rush them, only resulting in me dying, which have led me to change my playstyle. This resolve normally only lasts a few days each time though, as I like to keep myself excited when I play and I just don’t have the patience to sit there.

On the plus side, playing that way allowed me to gain the mindset of a turtle player. As other players rushed me down, it allowed me to see what were some tactics characters can use to get in. This kind of knowledge was essential as it allowed me to apply it to my own rushdown. It also let me realize what a turtle player might be looking for and helped me gain a bit of patience on the offensive side.

I stick with an offensive style just because it’s more entertaining for me, and it’s my style. I do lose a lot and feel I do work harder to win, but at the end of the day, everything is still fun, which is what ultimately matters.

Maj: As a rushdown player, when you’re hovering at midrange, how do you decide when to “make your move”? Do you try to create openings with predetermined tricks/patterns, or do you focus more on reading your opponent?

ComboFiend: Basically, what gives me the green light is when I can feel the opponent is frustrated. Although I play a rushdown style, I still make sure to keep my footsie game sharp, as that is a necessity. If I’m trying to rush someone and they’re turtling, I keep the match midscreen and out-footsie them. Once I feel that they’re a bit more tense or at a loss for what to do, I use that as my cue to get in.

As for creating openings, I try to do that by reading the player. I do that by classifying their style, whether that be a rushdown guy, footsie guy, or turtle guy. Once I do that, I try to figure out the moves they would most likely use with their character due to their style, i.e., rushdown Balrogs will try to jab tick into throw, use c.MK as a meaty, use the rush punches for random damage – whereas a turtle Balrog will c.FP all jumps, use the EX punches to push you away, try to sweep everything.

Once I’ve performed this process, I work on countering what I’d expect them to use and destroy any type of gameplan they might have had.

Maj: Elena in SF3:3S, Iron Man in MvC2, K-Ken and A-Eagle in CvS2, Guy in SSF4 … How exactly do you go about choosing your characters?

ComboFiend: There are only a few things I look for in characters when I play a fighting game: Speed/damage/range. If the character is fast, does pretty good damage, and can play footsies, I am good to go. If a character is more powerful in 2/3 of the criteria, I try to work on what’s lacking to make the character “complete” for myself.

I also like using characters that are least used, just because I like my stuff being original and I think every character has some kind of potential, whether it be a “gimmick” or an actually underrated character. Once I choose a character whose feel I like, I work on combos just to personalize the character further.

Maj: Any idea whom you’re going to play in MvC3?

ComboFiend: Nope. Until the completed version comes out, I’m not paying attention.

Maj: Good call. It takes way too much time to keep up with these endless daily announcements, and 90% of that stuff keeps changing anyway.

Okay, Edma said i should poll more people on this, so: Top 5 Shoto players of all time. Go!

ComboFiend: In no particular order: Daigo, Choi, Watson, Valle, no idea for 5th.

Maj: You’re one of the few players who has been successful in multiple tournament games: MvC2, CvS2, 3S, SF4, and even GGXX. Do you really enjoy all of them equally or are there certain games that you only play for the competition? And how come you never got into ST or HDR?

ComboFiend: When a game is new, I generally play it to see whether I think it’s fun or not. If I think it’s fun, I’ll play it regardless of the competition. If the game is ok, but lots of people are playing it, I’ll play it for the competition. If the game sucks, I’ll play it, but just to try and make it unfun for everyone else. The latter only happens after a game has been out for a long time, yet people still play it *cough 3S cough.*

Generally speaking, I normally keep playing those in the fun or ok category, but I’ve noticed lately that if a game isn’t fun to me, even if it has a high competitive base, I’ll put in a lot less time playing, just because I feel like it’s more of a waste of time. A few games I’ll still play, only ’cause I like annoying my friends at them. Case in point, my friends ID and Chaotic Blue, who play GG and BB.

ComboFiend and Chaotic Blue at Evo2k7One of the biggest draws for me in a game is its combo system. If I see the game intelligently rewards rushdown guys (CvS2 guardbar, GGXX guard system/negative penalties), or allows you to do insane or cool combos (MvC2, CvS2, SF4, GGXX, KOFXIII), then I’ll definitely want to play it.

As for ST, I’ve actually been playing it and have done well at some of the bigger tournaments (Midwest Championships, Final Round, etc). I always end up getting something between 2nd and 5th in tournaments, always losing to Justin or some ST specialist. I’m not too fond of the game as the only character in there that matched my playstyle was Claw. Unfortunately I don’t care to play like Tokido and walldive x 1,000,000, so I end up getting served more often than not.

Maj: I totally agree with you on MvC2 and CvS2 combos. Even after all this time, Capcom vs SNK 2 is still my favorite Training Mode playground.

I’m a little surprised that you ended up playing Vega in Super Turbo though. Have you ever tried Bison, Fei Long, or N.Ken? All three are hardcore footsies/rushdown characters.

ComboFiend: I’ve tried playing Ken and Fei Long a bit, don’t like the look of Bison. I didn’t like their feel because they felt a bit linear and because of that, never felt fun. ST is a fast game and trying to react to everything with a really fast character is too fun to pass up.

With Vega, I get to be really annoying and out range all the characters and do whatever I like, while playing an offensive footsie game.

Maj: That reminds me of Valle going against conventional wisdom back in SFA2 days – declaring that Rolento should be a rushdown character instead of a runaway character, and making it work.

Before i let you go – Since your name is ComboFiend, i have to ask: What’s your favorite combo to land on people?

ComboFiend: The combos that really excite me are either infinites or really damaging combos that are practical. Whenever I see those Joo videos, I think they’re entertaining, but not practical. Anyhow, a few of my favorite combos are:

XvsSF: All infinites =)

CvS2: Rolento: jab x 3, c.MK, Trip Wire super (every link is one frame)

MvC2: Sentinel w/ IM AA assist: s.HK, call IM, upward Rocket Punch, backdash, c.FP, Rocket Punch, Plasma Storm super (90% combo, 1 meter, low number of hits)

SF3:3S: Elena on a corner opponent: j.FP, c.MP, EX spinning move (HCB+3K), spinning move with MK, EX Rhino Horn, EX uppercut (does like 70%)

SSF4: Guy: Running HK move (2 hits), c.LP, s.MP, s.FP, jab shoulder, FADC ultra (crouching wide characters only – damage sucks but looks really cool) and j.FP, s.HK, s.FP, s.MP, EX shoulder, FADC ultra (taller chars only it seems).

I’m sure there’s more, I just can’t think of them right now.

Peter Rosas has traveled to several majors across the country this year, and continues to stay active in the Street Fighter tournament circuit. You can follow him on twitter or check out his facebook page to see what he’s up to.

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8 Responses to Five Questions with Peter “ComboFiend” Rosas

  1. Maj says:

    Photos hijacked from jchensor’s archives. Thank you sir!

  2. error1 says:

    Good interview, I think playstyle is kind of over stated, for example Wong is clearly a turtle but he commonly is very aggressive.
    I have never played to win but almost always play the most turtle character I can find, ( Blanka, Sagat, Guile, Remmy, Faust, Dhalsim, Blackheart ) with the strange exception of sfa1 where I play Guy and rush it down.

  3. Maj says:

    JWong is somewhat of an exception. He’s definitely a turtle at heart, but that kid’s so damn good that he can still rush almost anyone at will, except for the very best players. What makes that possible is that he actually has a very solid mid-range zoning foundation, which he probably acquired from years of Sentinel vs Sentinel flight footsies (where it’s all about spacing because blocking is disabled). But if you threaten him, he’s going to back off and test your patience rather than risk attacking.

    The truth is there are very few dedicated rushdown players left. The last Street Fighter game that truly rewarded rushdown was probably like Alpha 3. Since then, rushdown only works consistently as Plan B. For example in SSF4, if rushdown is your Plan A, then you can win sometimes and you can even “do well” on a regular basis, but you’ll never win tournaments consistently.

    Of all the players i’ve Five Question’d so far, ComboFiend and maybe Edma are the only two i’d call rushdown players. I suppose Clockw0rk fits the description too, but mainly just when he’s got Strider with meter to burn.

  4. BankBank says:

    great interview, thanks! glad to see the content has not slowed down on the site.

  5. Wilken says:

    Aren’t Tokido and ice0age r two rushdown gods in SSF4, Maj?

  6. Wilken says:

    Err, explaining my coment above; i think we actually have some rushdown players consistently winning tournaments, like Kindevu, Tokido, Alioune Sensei, etc

    As someone that live in a place with very few tournaments, i think its actually easier to play rushdown, because you can go to training mode and learn how to beat stuff on wakeup, but you can’t learn good footsies or good blocking against the training dummy…Or maybie i just think like this because the competition here is not as strong as for those guys.

  7. Maj says:

    Haha it’s hard for me to categorize Tokido as a rushdown player, but i guess his SF4/SSF4 Akuma qualifies. Kindevu counts too, but i haven’t heard his name too often lately. Anyway that’s still three players out of how many?

  8. Wilken says:

    Yeah, Tokido is hard, he doesn’t exactly rushdown, but he plays his Akuma in a way that once he gets a knockdown its over. And about Kindevu, he won SBO, no?

    Anyway, u’re right, i guess there are a lot more “normal” players than rushdown players.

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