Sunday, August 11, 2013

Where I come from, and where I'm going.

All is well, when I can see where I'm going. I've spent the majority of my life enjoying video games. I've always felt compelled to do it. I could play any game and after a short time, wouldn't be able to stop without coersion. Where other top players may have functioned because of discipline, I functioned almost purely on compulsion. While watching a movie or hanging out with friends my mind would always drift off to my latest obsession, be it Beatmania, or MVC2 or Street Fighter 2 turbo for snes, or MVC3. Those around me would always say I was never present, because at every opportunity I'd find an excuse to get back to it sometimes leaving friends and family feeling neglected.
 Somewhere along the way, I began playing tournaments and money matches. When I first started, the money from both was inconsequential. I was more concerned about the prestige, and trying to master my nerves. I used to tremble physically such that it was visibly apparent. The sick feeling I felt in my stomach, the clouded perception that I wanted to conquer was my motivation. I knew the only way to conquer it was to put myself in that situation as much as possible. With time I would overcome it. My way of approach was to money match every individual that was willing even if I knew I would most likely lose. I wanted to become steel. Unshaken, unwavering, able to perform the most difficult tasks with perfection under critical circumstances.

I learned that the longer the set went, the more my opponent could adapt to my gameplay. Gimmicks might work once or twice but after that I felt bare. Keeping that in mind, I realized it was important to find alternatives to every reset I had. Every opener needed an alternative that would mislead my opponents to incorrectly recognize an identifier, which would cause them not to see it. In order to truly maximize the potential and depth of my characters, I decided it was important to play only those characters. Meaning in mvc2, I played MSP almost exclusively. In the arcade, I can say I've played non msp teams less than 50 times over the 10+ years that I played the game. Eventually I felt I know the intricacies of my characters. I felt that no matter how much you adapted, there was always another trick up my sleeve. Over 30 matches I felt I still had enough to feel comfortable.

While I was satisfying my compulsion, I was constantly reprimanded by my family for playing video games. They always warned I'd receive carpal tunnel. I was told that I was wasting my time/life by playing video games and that I needed to stay in school and pursue music. During this time music gigs which were only on the weekends gave me enough to be comfortable with no more than 5 hours of my time every week. Having started with those gigs at 18 years old, I didn't have an appreciation for money as it came so easily from doing one of my other compulsions, Music. The constant badgering from my family eventually led me to the conclusion that in order for them to respect, accept and appreciate my passion for video games, I'd have to make more money from video games than I had made from music. I didn't realize that my conclusion would actually kill one of the most important aspects of gaming for me.

Considering I had already developed the habit of entering any tournament possible and money matching anyone willing I didn't think it would be that difficult. As time went on, I developed my skill in the game, and made more and more money from money matches. Tournaments weren't nearly as successful because I had trained myself to sacrifice early matches for educational purposes, allowing me to completely dominate the match as I began to understand the current mindset of my opponent. While in longer sets this lead to pretty convincing scores. 10-3, often times with me losing the first 2 matches... in a 2/3 I would struggle. Almost always losing the first match and squeezing by match two and winning match 3 a little bit more comfortably. Unless I was playing those in my own hometown that I was comfortable with and had already "downloaded" the results were poor.

Eventually the money matches increased dramatically in size, and I was the premier participant. The 3 biggest money matches in MVC2 all included me. Winning those matches and coming home with very large amounts of money changed the mindset of my family. I was no longer pressured to pursue music, but lightly encouraged. My family would no longer talk about my video games sardonically. To the contrary, they would brag about it to their friends. I felt comfortable doing what I wanted to, but I identified money as the reason for that comfort and I can't say that I was completely wrong there.

When Mvc3 happened, I wanted to pursue it from a tournament perspective. I recognized that it was going to be the most popular fighting game stateside and that if I wanted to make it anywhere with gaming in this era, tournaments were essential. My family around this time was beginning to really encourage me to drop gaming and focus on music again. I insisted that I could do both, and pursued fighting games while doing music when I wasn't satisfying my compulsion for gaming. At the time most of the money from my previous money matches were gone and I was struggling to travel and get to events. Most of the time that I did travel Knives or MMDS or even Tekken Tim were my means of doing so. They all believed in me enough to invest, knowing that if I was ever successful, I would return the favor.

Things started out slow and the pressure from my family increased steadily until I started doing well and once again bringing home money. While I started out playing the previous generation of fighting games out of love for games and with an interest in being the best because of my competitive nature. I started the next generation with an interest in making money and only cared about trying to be the best because it would increase net profit. As things ran their course, I eventually picked up a sponsorship that truly gave me more support than any of my friends or family were capable of. Beyond financial, they supported me morally and helped me realize some of my dreams.

I was approached by Sebastian "Onehandedterror" Jennings to join PDP. The idea sounded amazing, at the time I was doing a lot of business with Eightysixed Clothing, but still unable to travel without paying out of my own pocket. While the offer was nice, I very much remembered the help I had received from Knives and decided I wouldn't leave him at eighty sixed alone. I told Pdp I was only willing to join if they would take on Knives as well. Sebastian told me that they weren't really interested in stick players and that it was most likely a no for Knives. I felt like I was gambling with a huge opportunity, but I refused to join without one of my best friends. Eventually he got back to me and told me that we were both approved I couldn't have been more excited.

The support I got from pdp was most likely more support than any other player would receive from their sponsor. Sebastian studied all of my matches and would tell me things to avoid. Suggest teams for specific matches, and would congratulate me after every match I ever played on stream. He was always watching. He took care of all flight and hotel arrangements, even sending me to Texas for a tournament with only one day's notice. If ever I did something out of line, he would patiently tell me and I felt compelled to correct it. I felt obligated to try to repay him in some way. Once the promo code idea came up, I told him that I was going to sell so much product that PDP would give me a salary, and would give him a raise. He would laugh and tell me to worry about me and that he would be o.k. but I meant it when I said it so that was what I set out to do. To repay him I made pushing product my focus as I felt that was the best way to help him as far as and AGE was concerned.

 I would look for every opportunity to advertise and consequently, my spiel became a meme eventually. Sebastian was happy with my sales and in the beginning I was both selling and placing very well. The better I did, the more acclaim AGE got and that allowed Sebastian to pick up more players for AGE. He always spoke of how he wanted to try to give as many players an opportunity as possible. His philosophy was that the more players traveled to events, the bigger they would get as individuals, and the bigger the scene would get as tournaments would have many more prestigious players in attendance and therefore more high quality matches. Initially he wanted only pad players, but he soon began sponsoring pad and stick players alike. More so than just a manager that arranged our flights and hotels, he would mentor those of us who were receptive and open to it. Even reminding us to prepare for opportunities that could include leaving pdp for better. I have yet to find anything better. In a lot of ways, Sebastian put his job on the line for team AGE. Pushing for budget increases to meet the demands of the team and sending us out to literally every event we asked for even though sometimes, the exposure from some of them didn't justify the cost. He just seemed to hate saying no to our requests.

After picking up ChrisG on team AGE, I didn't feel nearly as pressured to perform. I felt that the tournament results easily handled by Chris which would mean I could focus more on sales. I practiced less and less and spent increasing amounts of time on League of Legends. While Sebastian did place high value on FGC results, he didn't mind me taking a break and would even ask me how I was doing in League of Legends. While I was playing casually, he told me that I could play anything at a compettitve level with the right dedication. His exact words were "I'll support you no matter what game you want to play." He had gone beyond the role of sponsor and had become a friend. He wanted to see me succeed whether that meant benefits for or not, It truly meant a lot to me.

As I played LoL more, my frustration levels increased. My temper shortened, and I began snapping at my fans and followers in misdirected anger. I developed the habit of blocking those with negative attitudes on LoL and eventually twitter as well. The reputation I had for being open and casual with strangers in person was the same, but online, I was fierce and very sharp tongued. I allowed the negativity that I experienced in league of legends affect me to the point that I became increasingly cynical.

 During controversial moments my sales would increase. I learned that any attention, both negative and positive increased my productivity with Pdp. So at my own discretion, I chose to use that to my advantage.

Doing well in sales but not in tournaments did a lot to my confidence. I eventually got to the point that I expected to lose every match. Being unable to compete at the high level was unfamiliar for me. As a result I lashed out at everyone, fans, family and friends. I let my insecurities best me there.

Eventually I was told by those who I valued that I was changing into something that I wouldn't want to be. I can't explain exactly how, but eventually it registered with me that my lack of humility was repulsive. I wasn't as meek as I was when I first started the askfanatiq show. My patience and tolerance was shot and I had embraced that.

 I find myself compelled to play marvel now. Random thoughts to test come to my mind while playing and watching. At random times, I turn the game on and play. It's rather unfortunate that I don't have anyone to practice against consistently. To compensate, I try to practice random characters, with the notion that doing so will still keep me sharp as far as engine mechanics are concerned, and it will be less tedious.

 Though my music has been developing pretty fluidly, I'm going to try to give fighting games another serious go. Not for the money, or recognition. I want to prove to myself that I am capable of competing at high level again. For those whom I've offended, I apologize. I have a strong sense of gratitude for those who despite my short comings continued to believe in me. I appreciate the patience of my sponsors, and the fgc as a whole.

In my stream earlier, I had communicated to my regulars that I like to write things down as it was like making a promise to myself. With it written, I can no longer deny that this is my true goal. I will show the fgc that I can contribute in a positive way. I promise not to post empty material to gain attention. I will show respect to the tournament organizers who truly are dedicated to the fgc.

 I don't really care to proof read this so I'm sure there are plenty of grammatical errors. I hope that these can be ignored and you can read this for what it's worth.



  1. Good read. I'm glad to see that you are on a path you want to be on, and not one that others want you on. I look forward to seeing you achieve your goals.


  2. All I want is for you to enjoy the games you play and be the best you can be, no more, no less.

  3. good stuff natiq! i was a regular viewer a long time ago, when you were just a guy sponsored by a clothes company talking about marvel on stream. its good to see that you're getting away from the negativity that destroyed what you had in the first place. good luck to you!

  4. Meh, you've already dug yourself in a hole and we've pretty much heard the same story before as well. Now with all the NEGATIVE attention the FGC and particularly AGE is/has been getting because of ONE person it doesn't really matter anymore... You can talk and say things all day and everyday, all that matters is your actions, so either do it or don't because your stories, interviews, etc... don't really mean anything anymore... Plus with AGE/PDP allowing this one person to run around doing and saying things without thought and being wreckless with no consequence is REALLY hurting theirs (AGE/PDP), yours, and "his" image as well and we're getting tired of it... But like I stated, your words don't really mean much anymore because we've heard it before and even after your interview at CEO I believe it was? Things still appear to be the same and nothing has changed really, it's just been getting worse and not you in particular, but because of association it is and will effect you as well...

    That bad link needs to be cut or "punished" severely in order to show AGE/PDP are serious about the FGC, but as long as they allow one (or more) of their sponsored players do or say what they want at tournaments (wether it's a weekly or major) and on social media then expect a lot more backlash, hate, or whatever you want to call it...

    1. I feel that I've made significant changes since CEO. I've played marvel a lot more and even went to a wednesday night fights to play sf4. I guess until I win a major some people won't be convinced that I'm truly trying. Truly, all I can do is try, and that's all I will do.

    2. Fuck do you mean "until you win a major? Loren, this is Hannie, listen to me, stop acting like ECT4 never happened. I don't care if you beat Justin with his B team or whatever. You beat Justin Wong who, under any other circumstances, is the people's champion. The man who people don't even mind losing to because they know his fame... you beat him and took 7 games in a first to ten. This shows things and doesn't matter what anyone says. Marvel hasn't changed. You did it then and you can do it now.

      -Hannie K, you're fave arab comic. lol Shoutouts.

  5. Good shit bro. I'm happy that you chose to test yourself and your limits again. You're lucky (or blessed, whatever you call it) to have such a wide array of resources and friends to draw support from, and I hope that you use it to your advantage. I look forward to you making to 8 at EVO 2014!


  6. Reading this made me really happy. Outside of games, differing opinions, and everything else, I hope that you will continue to grow in self awareness and eventually become the person you are capable of being.

  7. @xZOMBIEx

    Just because *you* don't feel as if his words don't mean anything anymore, just because *you* don't believe in him, it doesn't mean that everyone feels the same. You use the pronoun 'we' as if you speak for the entire community. Who died and made you chairman?

    Good shit Natiq, I'm happy to read something like this and I hope you are able to achieve your goals. I look forward to watching you compete in and hopefully win many tournaments. Ignore the trolls and don't lose the faith! *cough*pleasedropMSSandpickatleastonetoptierchar*cough* Kappa

  8. I mentioned the conflict that I saw in you months ago. You insulted me, banned me and blocked me. I hope that this blog post is an honest effort to get out of the cycle of depression and anger, rather than using your intelligence for social manipulation. Good luck.

    1. I can't remember what your name was on twitter, but I felt like your were passing judgment on me like a kick when I was already trying to admit my mistakes and I reacted defensively. I apologize.

    2. Geneyejin. As a person in general, I don't get angry just because someone else is angry or doesn't like me. My personal weakness is I react poorly to direct insults or disrespect, but this is more of an issue in real life when I feel it's a physical challenge. My issue with our conflicts was always that you were taking insult before understanding what I was saying, then getting hyped and angry before I'd finished my statement.

      Still, I view all of these issues from a different lens. If we speak in person I'll explain it to you. For now, understand that I mean it when I say good luck and I hope that your weaknesses don't undermine your intelligence and creativity going forward.

    3. I feel like this is what happened to me as well. Fanatiq probably took me being critical of his actions at the time as trying to undermine his authority or something when the exact opposite was true; I assumed he was too smart/level headed to do something like that, so I said something, and it backfired hard.

      That's why the most encouraging part of reading this was that somebody got through to him that he was falling off well enough that he was compelled to take action. I feel like everybody needs somebody in their life to call them on their BS. It's too easy to not be aware of things when you only have your own perspective to judge by. I've seen what happens to otherwise good people who don't have anybody to keep them in check, whether it's due to absence of not being receptive to what's there, and it's a shame.

  9. I used to be an active viewer and was always in chat. After the whole KOF @ Revelations debacle I couldn't stand your anger and treatment of others when you could benefit. (ie: revelations payouts, which sadly never came to the players). Recently I saw you acknowledge the passion and dedications of KOF players have towards their game. More recently you have been calming down more and more. Although your attitude never really bugged me that much, I did always have some resentment but overlooked it because you were a good person in the end. The revelations thing just pushed my buttons harder than anything else you had done before. I apologize in reacting so swiftly. However, this post further shows me how you are turning a new leaf. I wish you and the rest of AGE the best in the reconstruction.

    Trolls will be trolls but, keep your composure and show them that you still got it.
    -Rafael aka SRD

  10. Great to hear dude.

    I went through something similar with Street Fighter 4 and it was a painful time to say the least. I couldn't leave it with a game controlling my relationships with those around me though. While I have passion for SSF4, I couldn't have my short-temper forcing close friends and family "away from me" because my emotions and anger were just impossible to relate to. Thankfully, I'm past that phase in my life, and attempting to break into the competitive scene in the UK... unfortunately there is barely a scene... At all... But whatever, enough about me.

    Escaping the negativity and a maintaining a decent attitude will contribute heavily to you becoming a stronger player and a better person, both in the eyes of the FGC, yourself and those close to you. Keep at it though dude, can't wait to start see you representing again. If you are truly working toward this goal - the very best of luck to you and I'm sure the FGC has got your back.

    - oinfrar3do

  11. Personal change like this is a big step and it took a lot of courage for you to put this out here I definitely respect your forthcoming and wish you the best fanatiq