He wasn’t the pick of many going into Red Bull Kumite London. With a grouping of the best Street Fighter V professional players from around the world, who could blame onlookers unfamiliar with the French fighting game community of Nathan ‘Mister Crimson’ Massol’s prowess. But to those who caught him becoming a continuous champion of the Saltmine League tournaments or keeping a streak of kills at Damascus’ Wanted series, it made perfect sense.
Though a year of online-only competition has stalled the growth of many players who were used to evolving their skills offline, Mister Crimson sought to stay sharp by entering countless online tournaments to retain his edge. It took some convincing first, however, he reveals.
“I remember having a phone discussion with [Street Fighter player Claude Eric Diboti] Hurricane and he pushed me to register more in online tournaments, to stay ready and prepared for pressure tournament situations,” he says. From the biggest European online tournaments, exhibitions, and long training sessions with his training partners, he decided to not lift his hands off the sticks whilst stuck at home.
Mister Crimson didn’t adjust his training methods before entering the cage of Red Bull Kumite London. He simply kept his mind on those who might cross his path and putting on a spectacle.
“I didn't have a particular way to prepare myself, I just watched potential opponents that I would face in Red Bull Kumite and worked on their characters,” he says, trying to make every bout as exciting as possible. “I prepared myself to give an in-person show because, in my mind, this is in the Red Bull Kumite DNA.”
He does, however, credit the entire FGC scene for building his repertoire of matchup knowledge. “I have multiple people who helped me,” he says, citing two fellow countrymen. “Mainly, I will say Layo and Kilzyou – who are two of my French friends, but there are so many more. I can't thank them enough.”
The master of yoga
Dhalsim, Mister Crimson’s main choice of character in Street Fighter V, prefers to pepper opponents with a flurry of normal attacks, fireballs and teleports to mix up the opposition. Though many Dhalsim players underrate the stretchy stoic’s potency, the master of yoga thinks he’s well rounded if you are willing to commit the time.
“I think Dhalsim is a great character – he has strengths and weaknesses but the new mechanic (V-Shift) helps to cover his weak defense,” he notes, also detailing what binds him to the character. “The thing that I like about Dhalsim is that he needs years of practice to make him efficient so it's not a character that you can see being used as a ‘pocket’ counter pick character – only for passionate players [laughs].”
V-Shift, the new mechanic brought about in the latest update for Street Fighter V, enhances the defense of the entire cast by using it as an escape option from pressure. If used correctly, it can be the difference between a comeback or a crushing defeat. “It helped me a lot especially to deal with the "V-Trigger" based characters,” he mentions. “It's also a great answer for some specific situations like V-Reversal bait, et cetera.”
Overall, he prefers how Dhalsim interacts with the new battle mechanics and the new meta, which is a far change from what Street Fighter V used to be on launch. So many elements have been altered for the better, improved upon the base that was a somewhat shaky start.
“The game is definitely at a better point than when it started – less lag, great character diversity, multiple mechanics, etc,” he says, now exploring the possibility of adding a new sub character now that the cast is the most balanced it has ever been. “I will keep having a sub character to compliment Dhalsim competitively – we'll see who fits me the best in the future!”
Mister Crimson plans to ride the momentum of his Red Bull Kumite London victory and take it to his Capcom Pro Tour regional battle. He should be more than ready to take on a regional qualifier after fighting the world’s best, as the fierce competition further affirmed his love of the game.
“I think the Red Bull Kumite helped me in and outside of the game,” he says. “I’m confident but I also know that in the game, anything can happen so the only thing I can do is practice, and enjoy the great game that is Street Fighter V.”