The Midwest boasts a massive fighting game community, home to more than a Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition few pro players – one of which is Chakotay “ElChakotay Andrich, who made waves at the Street Fighter League Pro-US 2019 tournament series using his explosive Rainbow Mika/Nadeshiko tag team. However, he wasn’t always the content creating, top-placing pro we know and love today – but the Street Fighter series was always an important part of his life.
All about Street Fighter Alpha
Chakotay got an early start in his fighting game career, thanks to his father. The two didn’t just duke it out on their consoles at home, though: Chakotay’s dad even frequented local, competitive tournaments near his home in Detroit, Michigan, although he wasn’t aware of major, out-of-state competitions until much later.
“Growing up, my dad used to go to tournaments all the time, and he grew up in the arcade era, so he used to go to tournaments in our state,” Chakotay explained. “He didn’t know about tournaments, like how we do now, we go to different states and stuff. Growing up, he had all the fighting games, all the consoles – Dreamcast, Sega Genesis, PlayStation, all that stuff. Anything you could think of, pretty much. He kind of taught me how to play as a kid.”
In fact, Chakotay’s very first fighting game was Street Fighter Alpha 2 – a series that would eventually introduce his main character in Street Fighter V, R. Mika.
“When I was four, that was the first time I actually played Street Fighter,” he continued. “It was my first ever fighting game, Street Fighter Alpha 2, so that’s how I kind of got into it. Growing up, I would always play with [my dad], then I progressively got better as time went on and started to learn. Then, I found out about tournaments myself, some of the bigger ones, so I figured I would give it a shot.”
Go for it! Nadeshiko!
While Chakotay’s first foray into the Street Fighter franchise was with the Alpha series, he wasn’t a Mika main, from the start: in fact, Chakotay actually switched between series mainstays Ryu and Guile on the outset, only switching to R. Mika thanks to an odd bargain with his brother.
“It’s actually funny,” Chakotay recalled. “One time, I just got tired of playing Ryu – in Street Fighter IV, it was – so I asked my brother, ‘Look at the screen, and tell me any character you think I should play,’ and he picked El Fuerte. El Fuerte really likes R. Mika, but he’s not in the game, so I just played her since she’s the closest connection to him that I had. It’s not because she’s a wrestler or anything like that, it’s just me playing El Fuerte and I kind of stuck with him for some reason, and I know El Fuerte really likes R. Mika, so I was like, I’ll play R. Mika though.”
The drive to “do well”
Chakotay’s first jump into competitive play saw him study the likes of fighting game legends Justin Wong and Daigo “The Beast” Umehara in the SFIV era, taking notes from their playstyles and eventually leveling up, himself.
“I used to watch Justin Wong and Daigo a lot, so I always used to see the stuff they would do,” he admitted. “In SFIV, I was like, ‘How did they do that thing with the focus?’ They would like dash out of it and combo, and I would kind of learn that.”
Now, Chakotay still receives major inspiration from other top players for his own career, looking to the likes of Victor “Punk” Woodley and Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi for encouragement.
“What drives me is just seeing the success that other players have,” he continued. “Seeing how Punk and Tokido win a lot, and they become so big. I’m not saying that I want people to praise me, but just – it really drives me. They really show me that in SFV, you can be consistent. It really drives me to do well, because I see them do so well themselves.”
Even Mika needs a tag-team partner
Chakotay’s drive to “do well” saw him score top placements at Frosty Faustings, Ranking Event April Annihilation, and yet again at Texas Showdown, where he faced off against five other players from the Street Fighter League – a series that presented him with a unique challenge, as a veritable character specialist.
As Chakotay exclusively mains R. Mika, the League’s character ban clause meant that he could have been forced to choose a secondary at any moment – a tool that he feels many players should have in their back pocket.
“I feel like it depends on who you play,” he said of the matter. “I feel like if you play Mika, for example, then yeah – a lot of characters, you should have a secondary. With some, like Akuma, you don’t necessarily need a secondary to win. He doesn’t lose to anyone, really. He has a lot of good tools. But I feel like other characters, like Mika or Karin, you might need a secondary, because Karin has a few bad matchups, like Birdie.”
Getting in the wrestling ring – for real
While Team Psycho is ultimately out of the running for the SFL Mid-Season Championship, Chakotay’s journey isn’t finished with the League, by far: in fact, the player predicts ample top placements for himself going forward into the 2019 season.
“This is probably my best year so far, in SFV,” he mused. “Fans can expect a lot of placements. I really feel that. I’m not trying to sound cocky, but I honestly feel that I’ve been getting better progressively, and it’s getting to the point that I’m trying to become consistent. If not, at least know that I gave my best efforts.”
With CEO just around the corner, fans can expect even more Street Fighter League Pro-US 2019 action at the Mid-Season Championship, which will throw down at Daytona on June 28-30. Grab your sunscreen and get ready to brawl on the beach, because this weekend is going to get hot and heavy!