© Todd Owyoung
How iDom found his way in the fighting game community
New York City's top Street Fighter V talent reflects on his 10-year journey.
Derrick “iDom” Ruffin hails from Queens and if you ask anyone from the region, he is the best Street Fighter V player in the US right now. From being celebrated as a local hero in the New York fighting game scene to proving himself as a world champion at Capcom Cup 2019, iDom’s career in the game has propelled him into greatness seemingly overnight. But if you hear the history from the man himself, iDom has the stature of a veteran in the scene.
“It’s been a long journey,” said iDom. “From the first time I went to Big 2 in 2012 to now in 2022, a 10-year journey of me playing fighting games has been kind of cool.”
Big 2, as iDom explained, was the precursor to what would become Next Level Battle Circuit, the premier local for the New York scene. The Big 2 name was created to represent the event’s focus on two fighting game titles – Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Street Fighter IV. IDom didn’t attend Big 2 for Street Fighter as one might expect, instead Marvel was more in line with his interests at the time.
The arcade the FGC built
See how Next Level arcade built a new generation of FGC icons in New York City.
“The first time I went to the Big 2 was for Marvel vs Capcom 3,” said iDom. “That was the first game I got into competitive fighting games with.” At the time, the mechanics of Street Fighter IV didn’t have iDom’s approval, “I understand why people like it, but it wasn’t for me.”
Marvel vs Capcom 3 kept iDom amongst some of the best fighting game players in New York, having decent showings in the storied fighter. By the time Street Fighter V entered the picture, he was on his way to being a regular staple in the scene. In 2016, Savage Saturday, another event run by renowned TO Henry Cen gave rise to local competition for the game, giving rise to a new crop of Street Fighter talent. IDom was one of those talents.
They would talk me up and let me know that I was really good at this… everything just took off from there.
“There were a lot of New York players there,” said iDom. “They would talk me up and let me know that I was really good at this… everything just took off from there.”
This point marks the beginning of the beautiful partnership between iDom and the competition at NLBC. A melting pot of players from different boroughs, the best that the New York area has to offer competes on these grounds. For Queens native iDom, he had the support of players from his borough early on.
“People always try to prove that their borough is the strongest,” said iDom. “When I played, it was always for Queens. I always remembered Javits was in the background like, ‘He’s from Queens, you know he’s god-like and you know why he’s God-like? It’s because he’s from Queens.’”
Encouragement from players like Javits, a Street Fighter player who also hails from Queens and is incredibly experienced in the New York scene, is a key factor in what makes the city stand out in competitive fighting games. That drive to push your fellow players to do better goes all the way back to the Chinatown Fair days, though iDom does point out that based on what he’s been told about the era, they had a different way of motivating others back then.
“Back then, I feel like it was more, ‘I have to beat this guy until he learns,’” said iDom. “Now, I feel like it’s more, ‘I beat this guy. Let me try to help him out.’” Whether that change in perspective has helped the New York scene develop more quickly is up for debate, but the idea of besting the person in front of you remains the same.
For iDom, the 10 years of taking down opponents hasn’t clouded what makes the New York fighting game scene truly special – The people. The two individuals that he pointed to as embodiments of the New York FGC are long-time Long Island fighting game player, LI Joe, and fighting game commentator and one of the kings of Marvel 2 , Yipes.
“The LI Joe stories of him going to Chinatown Fair, coming to Next Level… the whole American hero story and Yipes is the mouth of the New York FGC, everyone knows that voice.”
Beyond the lauded names of the New York FGC, iDom shares a special bond with the two people he partnered with to win the Red Bull Subway Showdown last year, Dafeetlee and iDrop. If it wasn’t for them encouraging iDom to travel, we may not have had the opportunity to see the Capcom Cup champion take the mantle.
“We had a really great team last year,” said iDom. “They were two of the people I hang out with outside of just playing fighting games. We had a really good team, really good team chemistry. The bond to win together was actually super dope. It felt great to win with two of my great friends.”
IDom repeated his 2021 feat and built on his legacy as New York’s number one Street Fighter V competitor at the 2022 edition of Red Bull Subway Showdown, but beyond the tournament and the future of Street Fighter, he wasn’t shy about being uncertain of what it would hold. Street Fighter 6’s announcement marks what could be a new long and prosperous era of competition, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the same names will be lifting the trophies. It’s essentially a blank slate as far as iDom is concerned.
“Remember I didn’t like Street Fighter IV at all, so I feel like there’s gonna be the people that didn’t like SFV, but get into Street Fighter 6,” said iDom. “There’s gonna be that crowd, there’s gonna be the new face crowd… I feel like the area has always helped build the scene.”
IDom is a testament to what the New York area can build. A homegrown champion that largely paved the path to success for himself through mastering his craft while being surrounded by the best competitors the game has to offer. It’d be something special to watch him do it all again in a new game in the future.
Watch as NYC’s best Street Fighter players return to see which borough truly runs the New York City FGC scene.