Kane Blueriver is a household name within the fighting game community, many knowing of his achievements within the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 community. I managed to catch up with him over social media and was lucky enough to snag an interview with the prominent player.
Kane Blueriver, also known by the acronym “KBR”, is one of the strongest Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 players. He is well known for his “Big Bodies” team which consists of Hulk, Sentinel, and Hagger. Despite his shaking beginnings and placements, we saw something completely different emerge as the gain continued to evolve and KBR as a player beginning to grow.
Leaving his home of Chile, he began to travel in order to hone his skills at the game he had grown to love; Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. We saw him begin to optimize combos to devastating levels, come up with his own strategies to deal with annoyances, and become a name that was mentioned among the Mahvel elite. The underdog status that was tied to him and the team he chose to main began to net him many fans, but as the successive victories paid off, we began to also see a rapid decline in those who appreciated his determination.
As he continued to win and continued to show his prowess, many began to show disdain for his play style, characters, and even Kane himself. “I hope he does not win” became something you would commonly find amongst the stream monster who inhabited tournament streams, fighting game forums, and FGC news websites. Despite the public opinion of Kane not being as strong as when he was considered an underdog, this did not seem to waiver his goals of being one of the best in the game. Many majors were won, many trophies gained, but he still had his eyes on the largest fighting game tournament in the world.
The culmination of his victories paid off when he won Evolution 2015 for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, but this also came with something of drawback; the community. Despite his efforts being seen by everyone and the extent of his hard work evident through his worth ethic and results produced; many believed that Kane was not a “true” champion because many of those who were considered “Gods” of the game had either dropped the game altogether or had a decline in how often they played. This in itself did not hinder KBR, and we saw him go on to continue to win throughout 2016.
His 2nd place finish at Evolution 2016 cements him as one of the best within the game and deserving of his title as champion the previous year, and I am sure he will remain at these heights until the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is no longer played within the mainstream.
Interview with a Mahvel God
Reaching out to Kane Blueriver, and he was gracious enough to agree to this interview. I wanted to see his motivations as a player, his thought process, and a general feeling of how he was effected by personal opinion.
01. How did you come up with the name “Kane Blueriver”?
It’s way less romantic than people think it is. It was just an inside joke from like, almost 15 years ago with a group of friends; plus I didn’t have a handle at the time. The name is from a character from an obscure (at least in the USA, anyway) anime series called “Lost Universe“. Name didn’t sound “weeabooish”, especially in the days of everyone being a variation of something-Shinji-something or something-Sephiroth-something, so I just stuck with it.
02. So you do watch anime then? What are some of your favorite anime and what are you currently watching?
I used to – a lot – back in the day. Haven’t watched anything in quiiiiiiite a while. Some of my favorites are Slayers, Macross Plus, Furi Kuri, Escaflowne, Record of Lodoss War, Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya, Captain Tsubasa, Patlabor, Gatchaman, Saber Marionette, Sailor Moon, Great Teacher Onizuka, etc.; Overall, late 80s to very early 00s anime.
03. What got you interested in fighting games? What is your origin story?
I’ve always liked competitive gaming; I’ve done chess, Quake 1/2, StarCraft, Magic the Gathering before at different levels of competitiveness. The charm about FGs that got me hooked to it was mostly the 1v1 right next to the other person, the fast pace, and the lack of random elements. I just played them casually until a friend, around 2004, showed me the world of playing FGs with the intention of beating someone else, and since then I haven’t stopped.
04. Something I noticed you said was the lack of “random elements”, could you explain? A lot of people believe Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, even at high level, has a lot of random things about it.
Everything is deterministic. It’s not like Super Turbo even, where damage and stun had literally random values, but on current games everything is completely known to the exact point. You repeat a sequence 10 times with the same timing and the final result is going to be the same all 10 times.
05. Is the Marvel vs Capcom 3 series your first time playing a fighting game competitively?
No. I started playing competitively around 2004-05 with Capcom vs SNK 2 and Street Fighter III: Third Strike. From then until now, I would say the games I’ve played in a competitive sense are those two, Street Fighter 4, The King of Fighters XIII, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. I’ve played other games in tournaments, but I haven’t put the time in them to claim myself to be playing them competitively.
06. How did you fare with Capcom vs SNK 2 and Street Fighter III: Third Strike? I myself have never seen you play those games so I had no idea. Who did you use and what do you think your competency was at high level?
Eh, just “meh” to be honest. I never really had the tools to become a top player locally, and much less ever think I would go out. So, it’s not really motivating to improve thinking that you won’t be able to reach higher levels of competition. I played mostly Hugo/Urien in 3S and K-Guile/Balrog/Geese (R2) in CVS2.
07. A lot of people call you the “heart” of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, that your passion for the game is evident and you display it every time you play. What makes you love this game so much that you were willing to travel and get better?
More than the game itself, the way the game works leads itself to the relatively scarce possibilities I have to train and get better especially back home. I’ve just invested myself completely since this game gave me the first opportunity to go out there and be in the same places as names I’ve respected and admired from way before I was able to start doing all this. I just believe dedication and commitment are critical parts of success, and I try to show that through what I do, particularly because it’s the opportunity of a lifetime for me, and I need to make the most out of it.
08. Wise words. Do you believe you would have done this if you were interested in another fighting game at the time? What made you pick Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3?
I just try to pick most fighting games that interest me. It just happened that this game was the one that allowed me to start reaching a higher level. No matter the game, I would have committed if I had been given the same opportunity and was able to play at the level that I do in Marvel.
09. Many people call your signature team of Hulk, Sentinel, and Hagger “Team Big Bodies”. You have stuck with this team throughout your Marvel vs Capcom 3 career despite that many judge it to be a “low tier” team. What made you devote yourself to continuing on with this team?
Persistence and stubbornness, initially. When I did an initial assessment of what I should play, I concluded this team would suit me better considering my strengths and weaknesses as a player while seeing how the game was developing at the time. I just thought long enough that if I put enough work in it, things would change someday, because for the whole time of Vanilla MVC3 I was getting pretty much destroyed. I’m a slow learner, so… yeah, it did take me some time. But I’m also willing to put that, and put the effort, and I was able to improve and mold the team into what it eventually became.
10. I like to think there are three types of players; naturally gifted, forever a scrub, and hard workers. Those naturally gifted seem to have a knack that they just must hone, forever a scrub are not willing to do the things to legitimately become better, and hard workers never accept their place as good enough. Please tell me more about your ethic on hard work.
I’m definitely on the hard worker field. I respect people that do so, but also need to have the intelligence to be successful with it. I have no respect for the other two fields to be honest. That also reflects on the players I like/dislike.
11. When you were an underdog, many people rooted for you to win. However, this began to change as you got better and “I hope KBR does not win again” became a common thing in forums, Youtube, and website comment sections. Do you feel that winning too much will eventually cause people not to like you?
You know what they say, “you either die a hero or live long enough to become the villain”. I don’t really care though. The people that have always been with me support me no matter which game I play, what characters I pick, and are there always, all the way, and those are the ones that matter to me. I admire players that are able to become the uncontested best at their fields, and those are who I look upon to become like someday.
12. Many people play for the fame, accolades, and even for the money from being a professional player. You seem to be doing it because you want to be the undisputed king. Do you not feel the pressure from those who watch you play? Do you not care about your public reputation?
I do it to be able to play with the best at the highest level, to keep improving my level. There’s no pressure from viewers, because, why should I be nervous of them, or anyone? My public reputation is irrelevant to me for the most part. I want my skill to be the thing I’m remembered for, not out of game antics. That’s why I don’t try to get into drama or things like that. My goal is to do the game do the talk for me.
13. With Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 on the decline, have you taken an interest in any other fighting games as of lately? Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-, or The King of Fighters XIV perhaps? I have seen you play Xrd, retweet KOF trailers, and generally show interest in multiple games. Anything sparking your interest?
I’ve been playing both SFV and Revelator, but not at a too high level, but I do want to become competitive in those, and same in KOFXIV, especially considering that I believe that I have one of the best local scenes for KOF worldwide; so if there’s a game I can really get good at, it’s definitely that one. But I’m definitely not dropping Marvel. It’s not that I put more time into it, it’s just that my time invested into it yields better results because of the nature of the game in terms of needing less of having access of other players to be able to train it properly.
14. So, are you more of a player who focuses on improving as much as you can in solitude? I know you say you are a hard worker, but you are making it seem like you are more-or-less someone who hates to reach out to others unless absolutely necessary in order to improve.
Not at all. I just don’t have enough like-minded people to reach out here at home, and when I’m outside, those are really hard to reach because they’re elsewhere or they value their time too much to help someone else get up there, which is completely understandable.
15. How do your nerves affect your game play when you know that thousands are watching? How do you deal with that pressure?
It used to affect me a lot, but not anymore, thanks to reaching a better understanding of which should be my focus when playing, which I feel should be just giving my best instead of aiming to actually win, and thanks to the help of a psychologist friend who helped me with exercises related to breathing and meditation to help control anxiety situations. I don’t mind that thousands are watching, when I’m playing it’s just me and whoever is next to me.
16. If someone currently wants to be competitive at a fighting game, even capable of winning championships and possibly EVO, what is the best advice you could possibly give them for improving?
Above all, you need a positive mindset, resilience and persistence. Because at the beginning, it’s going to be bleak, and very hard. The first steps are the most difficult hurdles to begin with, because you have nothing to show you yet that you’re actually capable of doing it. That’s why you need to keep believing. It does help having a positive environment to develop yourself, surround yourself of people that think like you and are supportive of this. Then you need intelligence, to make the most out of your time. Time is the most valuable and scarce resource, and most people, especially in the western world, are specialists on burning it. It’s not about training hard, but about training smart. If you train smart, you’ll train hard but in such a way that’s entertaining, won’t burn yourself, and will net you the most results on the time you put into it.
Feel free to follow Kane Blueriver on any of these social media platforms below.
Feel free to follow Kane Blueriver on any of these social media platforms below.